After calling NAFTA an historic trade blunder, President Trump called on Congress on Tuesday to pass its successor, saying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would expand American agriculture. Wheat growers responded by warning against withdrawing from NAFTA, a tactic Trump has discussed, before the new trade agreement is ratified.
In a speech to the largest U.S. farm group, President Trump asked American farmers on Monday to take his side on the partial government shutdown over a border wall and said that with a secure border, "I'm going to make it easier" for farmworkers to enter the country. "Because we want to take people in to help our farmers, et cetera. Very important," he said.
The Sino-U.S. trade war, which as stymied U.S. farm exports, "is going to be a long one, and we keep delivering the message, 'We're with you, Mr. President,'" said the leader of the largest U.S. farm group on Sunday, adding a caveat. "The runaway of our patience is going to be determined by the financial situation of our farms. We went into the battle very weak." (No paywall)
The farm bill "is in very, very good shape," according to President Trump, who hinted that he will sign the bill into law this week. "So we’ll get the farm bill. Got to take care of the farmers. But it’s just been something very, very exciting," said Trump over the weekend.
Federal meat inspectors would report to work as usual and the SNAP and WIC programs would stay in operation if there is a partial government shutdown at the end of this week, according to a USDA plan developed for the brief shutdown early this year. Offices running the farm program would be closed, which probably would mean that Trump tariff payments would be delayed until the government opened again.
Taking a "show me" stance, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Monday he expected China to roll back tariffs on U.S. farm exports promptly and begin trade reforms in line with the trade deal struck by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House said over the weekend that China will make "very substantial" purchases of agricultural, energy and industrial goods but analysts saw no firm commitments in the statement.
U.S. farm income will be slightly higher than expected this year due chiefly to $4.7 billion in Trump tariff payments that will buffer the impact of trade war on commodity prices, says the USDA. With the bailout, farmers are forecast to collect $13.6 billion in direct farm payments, the largest amount in 12 years.
In the end, election night turned into a gentle blue wave, showing the nation as divided as ever. As expected, suburban voters pushed back against President Trump, giving control of the House back to the Democrats, while voters in rural areas doubled down on their support of the president, flipping the Senate seats in three ag-heavy states to the Republicans. (No paywall)
Banking on Republican gains in the midterm elections, President Trump said Congress could wait until next year to pass the farm bill because "we don't have enough votes" now for stricter work requirements for millions of SNAP recipients. Trump, who signed an executive order in April calling for new and stronger work requirements for social programs, has sided with House Republicans on the major dispute of the 2018 farm bill, now nearly a month overdue.