House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supposed to talk to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin again today about a new coronavirus relief package. Staff work “will continue around the clock,” a Pelosi spokesman said. 

But, but, but: Senate Republican Whip John Thune is casting doubt on whether an aid bill of the size Democrats want could pass the upper chamber. “It would be hard,” Thune told reporters Monday when asked whether there would be 13 GOP votes for a package that costs $1.8 trillion or more. 

Even if all 47 Senate Democrats voted for the package, 13 GOP votes would be needed to pass the deal. 

Perdue Farms: That’s not us

Poultry giant Perdue Farms is distancing itself from GOP Sen. David Perdue after he was criticized for playing with the first name of Sen. Kamala Harris during a recent rally with President Donald Trump. Perdue Farms has been using its Twitter account to let angry consumers know that it’s not related to the senator or his cousin, the secretary of agriculture. 

“Hi There! We are in no relation to David Perdue or Sonny Perdue. Glad we could clear that up,” said one Perdue Farms response

Buttigieg promotes Biden, regenerative ag

Joe Biden surrogate Pete Buttigieg talked up the Biden-Harris ticket in an appearance at a Michigan farm Monday, saying “we’ve got to talk about rural America as the solution on climate change. We won’t be able to do what this country needs to do to lead the world on climate change unless rural America, and agriculture specifically, are helping lead the charge.”

In a conversation with Michigan Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin and regenerative farmer Tim Boring of O’Brien Farms, Buttigieg said Biden wants to make sure farmers are supported as they implement conservation practices that keep more carbon in the soil.

Boring said he’s trying to move away from growing soybeans because of instability and uncertainty in world markets. “I’m doing this regenerative ag thing to make more money,” he said. “It certainly decreases our susceptibility to weather risks … but we’re dramatically cutting input use, we’re getting higher yields.”

By the way: Recent polls show Biden with an average 9-point lead in Michigan over President Trump.

Brazil minister links ethanol and sugar in trade resolution

Brazilian Foreign Relations Minister Ernesto Araújo on Monday drew a sharp line connecting Brazilian sugar exports to U.S. ethanol exports as the two countries try to work out a deal.

Brazil’s tariff rate quota for U.S. ethanol expired at the end of August. On Sept. 11 Brazil agreed to extend the TRQ by 90 days while the countries negotiate a deal to allow U.S. ethanol to continue to enter the company duty-free, but sources tell Agri-Pulse Brazil wants better access to the U.S. sugar market in return.

Araújo, speaking on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce webinar, said the countries are working on “some specific solutions in sectors like steel and ethanol-sugar.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who also took part in the webinar, stressed that when it comes to biofuels, he is certain there is plenty of “work we can do together with the United States.”

US and China set to debate tariffs again at WTO

 The World Trade Organization’s dispute-settling panel will meet in about a week in Geneva and the U.S. and China are preparing to present fresh arguments on China’s claim that the U.S. broke its international commitments when it levied tariffs on $234 billion worth of Chinese goods in 2018.

A WTO panel ruled last month in favor of China. The U.S. is expected to appeal, and that would essentially shut down the dispute process because the WTO’s appellate courts are not functioning, which is a direct result of the U.S. blocking the appointment of any new judges.

The U.S. tariffs followed an investigation into allegations of China stealing intellectual property and technology. China retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. farm commodities. All of the tariffs are still in place, but China is exempting its importers from paying the import taxes on some U.S. farm goods – a result of the “phase one” trade deal that was implemented in February.

Ruling leaves welfare reform effort in doubt

A signature welfare reform initiative of the Trump administration is in limbo after a federal judge struck down a rule that was expected to push many able-bodied adults off of food stamps.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell temporarily halted implementation of the USDA rule in March and then vacated it in a ruling over the weekend. The rule would make it harder for states to get waivers from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents.

Howell said USDA failed to adequately notify the public of the changes it was trying to implement. The proposed version of the rule “expressly and repeatedly stated that extended unemployment benefits” would continue to be used as a basis for state waiver requests, but then the final rule “did exactly the opposite of what was promised,” the judge said. 

Reaction: Democrats applauded the ruling, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that “protecting SNAP is a matter of life-and-death.”

Keep in mind: Unless Trump is re-elected in November, there may not be a lot the administration can do to save the rule. A Biden administration would be certain to kill it. 

After Howell’s initial ruling, Congress suspended SNAP work requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AFBF: Tax break expiration could put farms at risk

Thousands of family farm operations could be at risk if Congress doesn’t do something to keep the estate tax exemption from snapping back to a lower level, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.  Under the 2017 tax law, the exemption is now $11.58 million per individual but is set to drop back to $5.8 million after 2025. Setting an expiration date for the higher exemption helped reduce the cost of the tax bill.

Based on USDA data, it would take an average of about 1,800 acres to reach the $5.8 million exemption level, according to an AFBF analysis. More than 156,000 farms accounting for more than 582 million acres nationwide could be affected, AFBF says. 

The amount of acreage needed to reach the $5.8 million level in any one part of the country would vary depending on local land and asset values. In California, 580 acres would be enough. In Illinois, it would take 784 acres. In Kansas, the $5.8 million exemption could be reached at 3,053 acres. 

Keep in mind: Even before the 2017 tax bill, supporters of the estate tax argued that it affected very few farms even at lower exemption levels.

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He said it. – “You never want to be in the business of attaching a garden hose to a fire hydrant.” - Soy Transportation Executive Director Mike Steenhoek on the stress a large harvest puts on the river grain transportation system. He said the system is still performing well. 

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