Covid-19, ‘this global tragedy,’ flattens U.S. ag exports

Throttled by pandemic, U.S. farm exports this year will barely exceed last year's totals, wiping out hopes of a speedy recovery from trade-war losses, said the USDA. Sales to China are rising but slower than projected when the "phase one" trade agreement with Beijing took effect in February, and far from the tripling necessary to satisfy the purchase levels specified in the pact.(No paywall)

Trump tariff payments went to big farm operators

When the Trump administration poured billions of dollars into rural America to mitigate the impact of trade war, "most of it bypassed the country's traditional small and medium-sized farms that were battered by the loss of their export market," said the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday. It's just as likely big farmers will benefit in a big way when the USDA disburses $16 billion in coronavirus-relief cash to farmers and ranchers, said the program.

Coronavirus adds uncertainty to Chinese purchase commitments

China recently stepped up its purchases of U.S. corn and cotton, said USDA chief economist Robert Johansson, but the coronavirus pandemic creates uncertainty about whether Beijing will meet its "phase one" purchase commitments. The agreement, signed on Jan. 15, calls on China to buy $40 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year and in 2021.(No paywall)

FDA: Coronavirus disrupts supply chain for U.S. animal drugs

Six firms are seeing disruptions in the supply chain because of Covid-19 that could lead to shortages of animal drugs for the U.S. market, said the FDA in an update. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA animal scientists are "looking for any kind of possibility, even vaccines, that may help" against the viral disease.

Trump intrudes on spring planting for second year in a row

Besides weighing potential market prices against the cost of fuel, fertilizer and seeds, farmers have a new factor for their planting decisions: Will it assure them of a trade war payment? President Trump's suggestion that if his trade deals with China and other nations are slow to bear, "aid will be paid by the federal government," could encourage farmers to plant more land this spring than would otherwise be justified.

USDA outlook: Record corn crop to swell U.S. stocks, soy exports to recover

U.S. farmers will harvest their largest corn crop ever this year, fueled by the largest plantings since 2013 — growing so much corn that carry-over stocks will be the largest in more than three decades, according to USDA's projection at its annual Ag Outlook Forum. The soybean crop would be the fourth-largest on record, with exports recovering to pre-trade-war levels thanks to "increasing global import demand, particularly for China."

Trump speech to include next steps on China

In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Trump will provide details on further steps in U.S.-China trade relations, says a senior administration official. The nations signed a "phase one" agreement to de-escalate the trade war on Jan. 15 and Trump indicated "phase two" negotiations would begin soon, although no date has been announced.

In harsh year, U.S. crop acreage shrinks 5 percent

The rainiest spring in a quarter-century slowed the planting season and helped limit U.S. farmers to their smallest crop area in five decades, said the government in assessing 2019 production. Early snowfall and icy autumn weather prevented growers from harvesting more than 600 million bushels of corn, and the USDA said it would update estimates of corn and soybean supplies, if warranted, "once producers are able to finish harvesting remaining acres."

U.S. and China to ease, but not end, trade war next week

President Trump says he and Chinese officials will sign a "phase one" trade agreement at the White House on Jan. 15 that will de-escalate the Sino-U.S. tariff war that began in earnest in mid-2018. The agreement obligates China to buy up to $50 billion a year in U.S. farm exports, more than four times the sales level forecast for this year, according to U.S. officials, but details have not been released.

Promise of Japan deal caps Trump’s turbulent weekend on trade

In 48-hour span, starting Friday, President Trump roiled global markets by Tweeting his intention to again raise tariffs on China and ordering U.S. companies out of the country, then appeared to backpedal, saying at the G7 summit he was having "second thoughts" about escalating the U.S.-Sino trade war. The weekend ended with a bit of potentially good news on trade, when Trump and Japan President Shinzo Abe announced an agreement "in principle" on a deal that would include Japan buying surplus corn from the U.S.