President Donald Trump and his top trade negotiator head to the Group of 20 summit in hopes of restarting negotiations with China before the trade war escalates further while simultaneously making progress in talks with the Japanese on reducing their barriers to U.S. farm exports.
Trump, who is threatening to slap tariffs on an additional $300 million in Chinese imports, plans to meet directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 in Osaka, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will sit down with his Japanese counterpart to discuss a deal on agricultural trade.
Lighthizer has been guarded in his expectations for the Trump-Xi discussions.
"My hope is we can get back on track,” Lighthizer told lawmakers last week. “I think It’s in our interest. I think it’s in their interest. Hopefully the politics will line up over there to allow that to happen.”
Ahead of the talks, USTR on Tuesday will wrap up seven days of hearings on the list of Chinese imports targeted for the next round of tariffs. They include glyphosate and many other widely used agricultural pesticides, and CropLife America President and CEO Chris Novak will appear before the agency Monday to appeal for exemptions from the 25% duties.
Before heading to Japan, Lighthizer is expected to meet with a small group House Democrats that Speaker Nancy Pelosi assigned to work out ways to address her caucus’ concerns about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, who chairs the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, said Friday that he expected the meeting to occur early in the week. At a Ways and Means hearing last week, Blumenauer pressed Lighthizer to work with the lawmakers “so we can move with dispatch” to find way to address Democratic concerns.
“I think we can work this out quickly. I think we can work it out in an afternoon,” Lighthizer told another Democrat.
Besides Blumenauer, the eight-member task force includes Blumenauer and Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowski, who will work on drug pricing issues; Terry Sewell of Alabama and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut (enforcement issues); Californians Jimmy Gomez and Mike Thompson (labor); and Susan Bonamici of Oregon and John Larson of Connecticut (environment). Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal is overseeing the group.
The House, meanwhile, is expected to pass a fiscal 2020 spending measure that includes funding for the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration as well as the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency.
Last week, the House adopted a series of amendments to the bill that included a 10% increase in USDA’s rural broadband funding.
Also this week, USDA will provide fresh clues to the acreage that Midwest farmers were unable to plant this year because of succession of storms that drenched the Midwest from Ohio to the Dakotas. On Friday, USDA releases its closely-watched Acreage survey, which is based on an extensive survey of farmers as well as area sampling.
University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin cautions that the report’s planted acreage numbers could be off in areas where USDA statisticians rely on area samples. “There is no way to predict which direction the errors will go. Could be too high, could be too low. Won’t know for sure until January,” when the department’s annual crop production report is released.
Away from Washington, the Democratic presidential debates kick off Wednesday and Thursday in Miami.
Candidates in the first debate on Wednesday will include Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey. The current front-runner in the polls, former Vice President Joe Biden, will be in Thursday’s debate along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, June 24
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives annual Washington conference, through Wednesday, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Trade Representative public hearings on proposed Section 301 tariff list, through Tuesday, International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW.
4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, June 25
9:45 a.m. — Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Commodity Futures Trading Commission reauthorization, 328A Russell.
10 a.m. — Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the Land and Water Conservation Fund, 366 Dirksen.
10 a.m. — House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the economic benefits of soil health, 1300 Longworth.
2 p.m. — House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on Mexico labor reforms in USMCA, 2020 Rayburn.
2 p.m. — House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Chronic Wasting Disease, 1324 Longworth.
Wednesday, June 26
8:30 a.m. — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
9:30 a.m. — Washington International Trade Association forum, “Conversation with Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement,” Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
10 a.m. — House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on Brexit and other international developments, 1300 Longworth.
4 p.m. — Arizona State University’s Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems forum, “The Hidden Costs of America’s Food,” 1800 Eye St. NW.
Thursday, June 27
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
3 p.m. — USDA releases quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.
Friday, June 28
President Donald Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer attend the G-20 Summit in Japan.
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