The White House has notified Congress it will sign a trade agreement with Japan. President Donald Trump notified lawmakers he will enter an agreement on tariffs and digital trade with Japan, as the two sides wrap up the talks still this month.
Trump told lawmakers he is “pleased to report that my administration has reached an initial trade agreement.” The agreement is expected to be signed along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. The agreement does not need approval from Congress and can go into effect immediately.
The agreement will mostly lower tariffs on U.S. ag products, to levels granted to other exporters to Japan in the Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The lower tariffs allow U.S. farmers to better compete in the Japanese market. Top U.S. agricultural exports to Japan currently include beef, corn, pork, soybeans and wheat, totally $13 billion last year.
President Donald Trump says his administration has made progress on a biofuel reform package after meeting with key farm-state senators late last week.
The meetings were part of an ongoing effort to boost ethanol demand to help hard-hit corn farmers. Trump is having a hard time trying to appease two key constituencies, Big Oil and Big Corn, that he hopes will help propel him to reelection in 2020. “I think we had a great meeting on ethanol for the farmers,” Trump said to reporters at the White House last week. “Let’s see what happens.” Politico says despite recent meetings, it appears the White House doesn’t intend to slow down the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of waivers that allow some refiners to ignore ethanol-blending requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard.
It also seems as though the White House won’t offset the volumes expected to be lost to those exemptions in the annual rule. Trump is pushing a plan to add another 500 million gallons of ethanol and 500 million gallons of advanced biofuels to the 2020 blending mandate to appease farmers.
President Donald Trump says “the farmers will be so happy” when they see what the White House is doing for ethanol. On Twitter, Trump says “it will be a giant package, get ready.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at the Farm Progress Show this week said President Trump would announce details within the next couple of weeks. Perdue declined to offer any details, other than he pushed for easier access to higher blends of biofuels. Trump says that while the package will be welcomed by farmers, it also saved “the small refineries from certain closing.”
Ethanol groups have charged that small refinery waivers are killing demand for biofuels, because they exempt refiners from complying with volume requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced 31 waivers for small refineries in 2020. In the last year of the Obama administration, the EPA issued seven waivers. Trump has held several White House meetings with cabinet members over the last two weeks, working a mitigation package.
LINCOLN, Neb. – As harvest approaches after an extremely difficult year for agriculture, many Nebraska corn farmers are outraged by the Trump administration’s lack of support for the American farmer. The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association call upon the administration to fulfill its promises and to abide by the law and uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
President Trump’s administration continues to erode the RFS by granting 31 unjustified refinery waivers, destroying demand for corn and ultimately choosing to bail out the oil industry rather than helping American farmers. Corn farmers are already suffering from ongoing trade disputes, uncertain weather and continued low prices.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “All we’re getting is lip service. At one moment, we think President Trump is on our side, and then the refinery waivers come through. It’s truly a slap in the face. Farmers are hurting and it just keeps getting worse.”
Along with undermining the RFS, the U.S. has made little progress in trade. A new deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada still has not been reached and tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and China.
“Many of our corn farmers have stood with Trump for a long time, but that may soon change” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and farmer from Dorchester. “Trump needs to uphold the law and his commitment to our nation’s corn farmers by making the RFS whole and bringing trade agreements to the finish line.”
Nebraska Corn urges you to stand up for our state’s corn and ethanol industries by telling the Trump administration to stop stripping the RFS. Rural America is under attack and now is the time to act. Submit a letter to President Trump by clicking here. Submit comments before the August 30 deadline.
President Donald Trump claims China is ready to return to the negotiating table, but China says they don’t know who the President talked to over the weekend.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry told reporters “I am not aware of the phone calls over the weekend.” Trump claims Chinese officials called top U.S. trade officials to say, “let’s get back to the table.” However, China refutes the claim, and hopes the U.S. will “remain calm, return to reason, and immediately stop its wrong approach,” referring to the trade war escalation and Trump’s order against U.S. companies doing business in China.
However, the order met push back from the stock market and the U.S. business sector. China replied, “We hope the U.S. will heed the views from various sectors, calculate its gains and losses, and come to prudent rather than hot-headed decisions.” Over the phone negotiations were set to resume this week and Chinese officials are scheduled to meet in Washington with the U.S. for negotiations next month.
President Donald Trump this week asked cabinet members to appease farmers angry over small refinery waivers. Following a rash of blowback from ethanol and commodity groups, Trump held a meeting to find a solution.
Representatives from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, along with the Environmental Protection Agency attended a two-hour meeting Monday on the subject, according to Reuters. However, no clear action has been identified so far. The EPA has received 42 requests for small-refiner exemptions for 2018, while there are only 48 classified small refineries in the United States. The waivers exempt refineries from provisions in the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Farmers argue that reallocating the exempted gallons of biofuel would be a good start in addressing the issue. The National Corn Growers Association says the waived volume now accounts for 4.04 billion ethanol gallons. NCGA President Lynn Chrisp says, “waivers reduce demand for ethanol, lower the value of our crop and undermine the President’s support for America’s farmers.”
President Donald Trump’s recent comments on wheat exports to Japan have generated some negative press among one of his biggest groups of supporters.
The Hagstrom Report says when the president was speaking in Pennsylvania, one of the topics was the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Trump said, “They send thousands, even millions of cars to us. We send them wheat. That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re okay.”
The National Association of Wheat Growers responded quickly via Twitter. “Mr. President, Japan is the number one market for U.S. wheat exports on average, where we hold just over 50 percent of the market. They don’t buy our wheat because ‘they want us to feel okay.’ They buy it because it’s the highest-quality wheat in the world. That’s not fake news.”
The negative reaction to Trump’s statement followed farmers venting about the administration’s policies when Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared at Farmfest in Minnesota.
*Editor note* Ag Secretary Perdue will be at the Nebraska State Fair on Friday, August 23 for a town hall event at 11:30 in the Raising Nebraska Building.