Election Day is here, which means the voting that has been going on for weeks around the country finally comes to an end. 

We’ll be watching the outcome of not just the presidential race but also a number of House and Senate races that are important to agriculture, including House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson’s re-election race in western Minnesota. 

One major analyst, Larry Sabato, on Monday moved Peterson’s race from “toss-up” to “lean Republican,” meaning Sabato now thinks Peterson’s GOP challenger has the edge. Other ratings services still see the race as a toss-up.

The issues in play in the presidential race include regulatory and trade policy: President Donald Trump is promising more deregulation in a second term and wants to press his trade war with China. Joe Biden is promising to end the tariffs on China and is certain to halt Trump’s rollback of regulations.

Keep in mind: Regardless of the election outcome, farm and food groups will need to find new allies in Washington, a senior ag lobbyist says. 

“No matter what happens, those of us in the food and ag community are going to be having to make some new friends because there will definitely be a lot of new faces,” Michael Torrey of Torrey and Associates told Agri-Pulse

Torrey says his “fingers are crossed” for Peterson to win his district, but Torrey thinks a Biden administration might have room for Peterson if he loses.

Trump looks to slow H-2A wages

The Labor Department has finalized a plan to freeze the wages of most H-2A workers for two years. Starting in 2023, wages would start to rise but likely at much lower rates than they have been increasing. 

The final rule announced Monday keeps the minimum H-2A wage rates at the 2020 level for 2021 and 2022 and then ties the rates to a broad national indicator of labor costs. H-2A rates have long been set according to a survey of farmworker wages USDA conducts annually. 

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, praised the department for maintaining existing H-2A wage rates for the next two years. He said that action “provides stability during the uncertainty created by the pandemic and trade imbalances."

Lawmakers call for more protection of US cheese

More than one-quarter of the U.S. House is calling on the Trump administration to prioritize the fight against the European Union over its campaign to restrict the usage of some cheese, wine and other names.

“Without decisive action to build further upon the progress made to date on intellectual property measures, the European Union will continue to raise unfair trade barriers and seek to establish harmful GI policies in negotiations with our trading partners,” 111 Democratic and Republican lawmakers say in a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. 

“It is, therefore, critical that USTR and USDA advance a consistent trade policy that prioritizes securing specific market access assurances for products that use common food terms, traditional terms, or the names of legitimate plant and grape varietals in all trade-related discussions.”

US, UK agree to continue trade talks after the election

U.S. and British negotiators have wrapped up their fifth round of trade talks and an agreement has been reached to resume the sometimes contentious talks after the election, according to a statement released Monday by the U.K. government.

“Following the significant progress made in talks to date, both sides are confident that we are on track for a comprehensive agreement which would provide a significant and mutual benefit to our economies,” the British government said. “We believe we are in a good position to move forward after the U.S. election.”

W&M Chairman Neal

Dems give USMCA issues a failing grade

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are giving the Trump administration a failing grade on enforcing some aspects of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, including a Canadian pledge to import more U.S. dairy.

“The advancements Democrats secured will only be effective if the United States carries out the deal’s provisions fully, as the agreement demands,” said Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the committee, in a statement accompanying a new assessment

“The Trump Administration’s lackadaisical approach to implementing and enforcing the USMCA is an affront to American workers, threat to the health of our hemisphere’s environment, and disservice to the U.S. economy.”

Brazil soy planting his record pace

Brazilian farmers planted about 2.47 million acres of soybeans last week, pushing the country into a record-breaking pace, according to a new analysis by AgRural, an agricultural consulting firm in southern Brazil.

Planting faltered last week in the southern state of Paraná “due to irregular rains,” but farmers in the Midwest were sowing their fields at an extremely quick pace as the country makes up for earlier delays. Brazil’s Midwest – including the big ag states of Mato Grosso, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul – is now 42% planted, whereas the region was just 23% finished a week ago.

“With the advance registered in the second half of October, there is almost no delay compared to last year and the five-year average,” AgRural said Monday.

USDA advancing new corn trait

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has opened a 60-day comment period on a Pioneer Hi-Bred International petition seeking deregulation of a corn variety genetically engineered to be resistant to corn rootworm and tolerant of glufosinate herbicides.

Western corn rootworm is estimated to cause more than $1 billion in damages annually in the U.S. and Europe, according to a paper this year from Pioneer parent Corteva Agriscience.

“WCR have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to many of the existing management practices, and have developed resistance not only to soil and aerially applied insecticides,” but also to some proteins derived from Bt that are expressed in genetically modified corn, the paper said.

He said it. “There were things that he would say, that while true, he certainly said them in a way that created controversy. He would offer that he was doing it in a way to try to entertain and get the attention of those that agreed and disagreed with his views,” – Ag lobbyist Mike Torrey, on his former Kansas State University professor, Barry Flinchbaugh, who died Monday. 

Read our obituary here


Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at philip@agri-pulse.com