Today’s quick hits, May 23, 2019

White House downplays trade in Japan trip (FERN’s Ag Insider): President Trump will “promote bilateral, free, and fair trade” during a trip to Japan this weekend, said a senior administration official. “I don’t think that the purpose of this trip is to focus on trade,” said the official when asked if a U.S.-Japan trade agreement was expected during the visit.

Senators move to block ag mergers (Booker): Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Jon Tester filed an updated bill calling for a moratorium on mergers and acquisitions in the food and ag sector while Congress addresses the issue of market concentration. A similar bill is pending in the House.

USDA withholds wildfire money from California (Los Angeles Times): The Trump administration has accused California of overbilling and is withholding $9 million of the $72 million that the state says it is owed for fighting wildfires on federal land in 2018.

FCA chairman dies (The Hagstrom Report): Dallas Tonsager, chairman of the Farm Credit Administration since 2016 and an agriculture undersecretary during President Obama’s first term, died on Tuesday of cancer.

U.S. and Canada offer swine fever plan (USDA): U.S. and Canadian livestock officials agreed that in the event of an outbreak of African swine fever in either country, they will continue “safe trade” in hogs and pork products by allowing shipments from disease-free zones while combating the highly contagious viral disease in control zones.