Asia is brimming with opportunities to win lifelong consumers of U.S. food and ag exports, said President Biden’s nominee for USDA undersecretary for trade on Thursday. At a Senate nomination hearing, Alexis Taylor said her priorities would be opening foreign markets to U.S. goods and the diligent enforcement of the rules governing trade agreements.
The risk of another outbreak of avian influenza this fall remains elevated and the stakes for poultry producers couldn’t be higher, with U.S. poultry exports expected to reach record levels in 2022, said a report Tuesday from CoBank's Knowledge Exchange.
China was far and away the top customer for U.S. food and ag exports, despite rising tensions between the nations and the still-unresolved trade war, according to government data released on Monday. Agricultural economist David Widmar said China was on track to break the record it set last year for purchases of American agricultural products.
Doug McKalip told senators that if he’s confirmed as U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, “it will be my duty to break down the barriers” to U.S. food and ag exports. During a friendly and relatively brief confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, he pledged to press U.S. trade partners to live up to existing agreements.
A week after a House committee voted to prohibit China from purchasing U.S. agricultural land, the No. 3 House Republican leader cited national security concerns in spearheading legislation to block China from acquiring U.S. agricultural companies. The restrictions were proposed at the same time business groups sought removal of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, remnants of the Sino-U.S. trade war.
Ocean carriers will be barred from unreasonably refusing to load U.S. cargo, a practice that blossomed during pandemic-related port congestion, under a bill signed into law by President Biden on Thursday.
The United States will build temporary grain silos on the border of Ukraine and Poland to help overcome a logistical barrier to exporting Ukrainian grain by rail, President Biden announced on Tuesday. "I'm working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tons of grains locked in Ukraine out onto the market to help bring down food prices," he said.
In his second attempt to fill the post, President Biden nominated Doug McKalip on Wednesday to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, working with U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. The post has been vacant since Biden took office, to the increasing dismay of farm-state lawmakers and the agribusiness sector.
The United States will export a record $191 billion worth of agricultural products this fiscal year as the world scrambles to replace the corn, wheat, and vegetable oil it would normally get from Russia and Ukraine, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. It would be the second year in a row of record-high farm exports.
President Biden selected two veterans of U.S. agriculture and nutrition policy for sub-cabinet positions at the Agriculture Department. Stacy Dean was nominated to serve as undersecretary for nutrition and Alexis Taylor to be undersecretary for trade, announced the White House. Dean has been the senior official overseeing USDA nutrition programs since Biden took office and Taylor has been Oregon's agriculture director since December 2016.
On a voice vote, the Senate passed a shipping reform bill on Thursday that would make it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse to load U.S. goods ready for shipment at ports.
As part of enhancing access to a 49-acre "pop up" site devoted to ag exports, the Agriculture Department said it would pay up to $400 per container to help cover the additional logistical costs of pre-positioning containers with U.S.-grown agricultural commodities at the site.
To mitigate the impact of war in Ukraine on global food supplies, the G7's agriculture ministers called on all nations to keep their trade channels open and to guard against unjustified limits on exports. "We will not tolerate artificially inflated prices that could diminish the availability of food and agricultural products," said the ministers in a statement after a special meeting convened via the internet.
While pressing China to live up to its trade commitments, the United States will focus increasingly on how to defend its economic interests in dealing with an unreliable partner, said U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. China and the United States are the two largest economies in the world and their overall relationship is "profoundly consequential," said Tai on the closing day of USDA's annual Outlook Forum.
With sales to China waning, the growth markets for U.S. pork exports will be Mexico and Latin America, said economist Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends. Mexico accounted for 22 cents of every $1 in pork exports last year, and eight Latin American nations, often regarded as lesser customers, are set to become major customers for U.S. pork.
The 2020 agreement that de-escalated the Sino-U.S. trade war set unrealistically high goals for U.S. exports to China and failed to deliver on them by large margins, say analysts. Overall, China bought just 57 percent of the goods and services it committed to buying as part of the “phase one” agreement. The agriculture sector, at 83 percent, came closest to reaching its export goal.
Although sales are forecast to dip this year, U.S. farm exports hit a record $177 billion during 2021, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The previous calendar-year record was $154.5 billion in 2014, at the end of the seven-year commodity boom.
Record-high expenses and sharply lower federal subsidies will erode farm income in 2022, according to a forecast by the Agriculture Department. Nonetheless, U.S. agriculture would see one of its best years on record, with net farm income 26 percent above its 10-year average.