The Trump administration’s trade negotiations pick up this week with both China and Japan, while the Agriculture Department starts accepting applications for the latest round of trade assistance being offered to farmers as compensation for the impact of retaliatory tariffs.
Also this week, the Senate must clear a House-passed budget agreement that will set spending levels for fiscal 2020 and 2021 and suspend the debt ceiling for two years. The House passed the budget deal last week before breaking for a long summer recess that will last until the week of Sept. 9. The Senate will start its recess after this week.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to arrive in Shanghai on Monday for two days of talks with the Chinese. It will be the first face-to-face negotiations to end the year-long trade war since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in June.
Trump sought Friday to lower expectations on a quick resolution to the trade war, however. “I don’t know if they’re going to make a deal,” Trump told reporters. “Maybe they will; maybe they don’t.” He predicted that it might take more than a year for a resolution if the Chinese wait to see if he is re-elected in 2020.
After the talks, Lighthizer will return to Washington to meet with Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is leading the country’s delegation to Washington to resume talks on a possible trade deal, a government official told Agri-Pulse. The agreement is expected to be largely focused on agricultural issues.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the U.S. Mexico-Canada trade agreement on Tuesday ahead of the recess. The witnesses will include former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, now president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Corteva Agriscience CEO James Collins.
On Monday, USDA’s Farm Service Agency will begin accepting applications for payments under Trump’s new Market Facilitation Program, the latest version of his effort to soften the impact of the U.S.-China dispute.
The payments in this round are expected to total $7 billion. The payments will be delivered in up to three tranches, with farmers receiving 50% of their total payment or at least $15 per acre in this initial round.
The budget agreement is at the top of the Senate's pre-recess to-do list. “The president is strongly in support of it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor last week. “The Senate needs to pass it and put it on the president’s desk.”
The House approved the pact last week, 284-149, but two-thirds of Republicans voted against it.
Heritage Action for America, the political advocacy arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is urging Republicans to oppose it, saying it will add $322 billion in additional spending the country can’t afford.
“We can’t let this moment pass by and do nothing,” Heritage Action said. “Some politicians would like to kick the can down the road, but that is tantamount to giving up. Now is the time to fight to get spending under control.”
The House and Senate Appropriations committees still need to agree on spending limits for individual funding bills for FY20. The Senate committee is expected to begin moving its version of the FY20 spending bills in September. The House has already passed its version of the bills, but the spending levels are certain to vary from the limits the House and Senate committees will set.
Also this week, the second round of Democratic presidential debates will take place Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit, sponsored this time by CNN. Each debate will have 10 candidates.
Tuesday's lineup comprises Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and author Marianne Williamson.
In Wednesday’s debate: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and businessman Andrew Yang
Here are some major administration regulatory actions open for public comment:
Proposed rule modifying regulations for the H-2A agricultural visa program. Comment period closes Sept. 24.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, July 29
4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, July 30
10:15 a.m. — Senate Finance Committee hearing on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, 214 Dirksen.
8 p.m. — Democratic presidential debate, Detroit.
Wednesday, July 31
9:30 a.m.- Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on reauthorization of the Grain Standards Act, 328A Russell.
8 p.m. — Democratic presidential debate, Detroit.
Thursday, Aug. 1
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
Friday, Aug. 2
International Sweetener Symposium, through Wednesday, Asheville, N.C.
Bill Tomson contributed to this report.
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