There are some reasons to have hope for a major new coronavirus relief package, although President Trump’s illness has obviously has raised questions about when an agreement could be reached or enacted. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CBS’ Face the Nation that negotiators “are making progress.” She said she has assured airline executives that “relief is on the way … and it will be retroactive.” 

From his hospital suite, President Trump on Saturday tweeted support for the talks. “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!”

Keep in mind: Several agriculture issues have broad bipartisan support are in play in the negotiations. 

Take note: There will be no floor action in the Senate for the next two weeks because of the COVID-19 cases that have hit GOP senators. 

Canada cracks down on U.S. romaine

In a move that has surprised the produce industry, Canada is requiring importers of romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley in California —  as well as mixed salads containing romaine — to provide a certificate from an accredited laboratory showing the lettuce is free E. coli bacteria. 


Canada also will continue to require that imported leafy greens from California be sourced from certified members of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Multiple E. coli outbreaks in recent years have been associated with romaine lettuce from the U.S., including California and Arizona. CFIA said the requirements will take effect Wednesday and last through the end of the year. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association expects Canadian importers to lose at least $11 million a week.

Shipments of romaine lettuce or salad mixes containing romaine from outside the California counties of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey must have a declaration of origin from the exporter.

Keep in mind: This appears to be in line with the regionalized targeting that the U.S. has been pushing trading partners to adopt. 

FDA seeking input on traceability

FDA has scheduled three public meetings on its proposal to require more recordkeeping for foods on its proposed Food Traceability List. The virtual meetings, announced in a Federal Register notice published today, are slated for Nov. 6, Nov. 18, and Dec. 2.

The Sept. 23 proposed rule lays out requirements for supplying Key Data Elements — such as the quantity of food and where it came from – associated with different Critical Tracking Events, including shipping and receiving.

Among the foods on the proposed traceability list are shell eggs, melons, leafy greens and all types of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. FDA said it will publish the final list when it publishes the final traceability rule. 

USSEC confident in two-year ‘phase one’ target

U.S. Soybean Export Council CEO Jim Sutter tells Agri-Pulse he’s confident that while China may not be able to meet all of the first-year purchase commitments under the “phase one” trade pact by Dec. 31, it will eventually fill all of its promises on buying U.S. ag commodities over the two-year span of the agreement.

As to soybeans, Sutter said last week that when the U.S. and China signed “phase one,” China had already been booking much of its purchases for the first half of the year from Brazil. But now U.S. sales to China are proceeding at a record pace, and Chinese demand will continue it increase through much of next year as the country boosts its pork and chicken production.

“The phase one trade agreement … has been a very good thing overall for U.S. trade with China,” Sutter said.

US to investigate Vietnam for currency manipulation, illegal timber

The Trump administration is launching an investigation of Vietnam for currency manipulation, using the same Section 301 trade law it employed to investigate China for forced transfer of intellectual property and technology theft. The China investigation resulted in tariffs and Chinese retaliatory taxes on U.S. soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum and other farm goods.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office also says it is investigating “Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded.”

“We will carefully review the results of the investigation and determine what, if any, actions it may be appropriate to take,” said USTR Robert Lighthizer.

Vietnam has been growing as a consumer of U.S. farm goods, and USDA’s undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Ted McKinney, led a trade delegation to the country last year.

Brazil predicts higher rice production next year

There isn’t enough rice in Brazil, and the government is promising more imports this year and a bigger crop next year to prevent the higher prices and scarcity that now has citizens complaining. Rice is one of the most popular staples in the Brazilian diet, and the country is desperate to get more amid rising domestic demand and after exporting more than usual to take advantage of currency fluctuations.

Brazil produced 11.2 million metric tons of rice this year, which would have normally covered its expected consumption of 10.8 million tons, says CONAB, Brazil’s largest agricultural analysis company. The organization says production next year will increase by 7.2% to protect against any further shortages.

As to imports, Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry announced Friday that imports of 225,000 tons have already been purchased from the U.S., India and Guyana after Brazil temporarily dropped its tariffs. Brazil has purchased at least 200,000 tons of U.S. rice for delivery in October and November, the USA Rice Federation says. 

EPA acting to promote sustainable ag

EPA has signed agreements with Maryland and Pennsylvania to help promote sustainable practices on farms in both states, which are located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The agency announced the agreements Friday. In both, EPA and the state departments of agriculture commit to the goal of “well-managed, sustainable farms that produce food for our communities and a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Both agreements also seek to provide funding directly to the state agriculture departments.

EPA is currently being sued for not enforcing Clean Water Act requirements against Pennsylvania to reduce pollution flowing into the bay.  The agency has similar agreements with Delaware and West Virginia and plans to sign another one soon with Virginia.

He said it. “It’s not just the folks at the White House who deserve regular testing. It’s the folks in the meatpacking and food processing plants, the grocery workers.” – Former Vice President Joe Biden, to a United Food and Commercial Workers event in Michigan. 

Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at