There are several big questions for U.S. agriculture as a result of the election, but none bigger than who will replace Collin Peterson as chairman of the House Ag Committee.
Among the names in play is Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees USDA operations and nutrition programs. One long-time ag lobbyist says the Congressional Black Caucus appears to be pushing hard on Fudge’s behalf.
Fudge, who represents heavily African-American areas in the Cleveland-Akron region, has been critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict eligibility for nutrition assistance.
Other possibilities include Georgia Rep. David Scott, the committee’s most senior Democrat. California Rep. Jim Costa and Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson also have been mentioned. Thompson would have to give up his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.
Take note: During the past two years, Peterson went out of his way to get Democrats on the committee up to speed on ag issues. That is going to wind up paying off for U.S. agriculture down the line, says National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, a longtime aide to Peterson. Larew was speaking on a post-election Agri-Pulse webinar Wednesday.
Stimulus, government funding on to-do list
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in Kentucky he wants to pass a new stimulus bill before the end of the year, saying “partisan passions” prevented a deal before the election.
With Republicans in a strong position to retain control of the Senate and Democrats losing seats in the House, McConnell potentially has more leverage over the negotiations in the lame duck. Certainly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in a weaker position than she was before the election when polls were suggesting Democrats would expand their House majority and take over the Senate.
Getting a deal still won’t be easy, and it’s not clear what ag provisions would make it into an aid package, and how Peterson’s loss could affect the talks. Peterson authored a detailed list of provisions that were included in a House-passed aid bill.
Take note: Senior ag lobbyist Randy Russell said on the Agri-Pulse webinar Wednesday that he thinks there is less than a 50-50 chance that a stimulus bill will pass before the end of the year.
His reasoning: The sharp difference between McConnell and Pelosi on how much spending is needed. Russell says he’s more optimistic that Congress will pass an omnibus spending package to keep the government funded through the rest of the 2021 fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
GOP looks to keep control of Senate
Vote-counting Wednesday appeared to show what had seemed apparent Tuesday night: Republicans likely will retain control of the Senate.
The biggest blow to Democratic hopes may have occurred in Maine, where Sara Gideon, speaker of the state House of Representatives, conceded to incumbent Republican Susan Collins, who had been trailing in the polls all year.
Democrats went into election day needing three seats to get to 50, which would allow Kamala Harris to break tie votes if Joe Biden became president, and four seats for an outright majority. They picked up seats in Colorado and Arizona but lost one in Alabama, leaving them hoping to pull out still-tight races in North Carolina, where Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has proclaimed victory over Cal Cunningham, or Georgia, where fellow Republican David Perdue was holding a slim lead over Jon Ossoff.
FAS sees China’s soybean imports dropping
China broke records with its soybean imports for the 2019-20 marketing year, but trade will be cooling off a bit for 2020-21, according to a new analysis released by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Chinese imports are now expected to drop to 95 million metric tons for 2020-21, down from the record-setting 98.5 million tons, says the FAS office in Beijing.
“Although feed production and soybean crush are projected to continue growing in (2020-21) to meet demand from the recovering swine herd and growing poultry sector, the beginning of a gradual drawdown in stocks is expected to constrain imports in (2020-21),” the report concluded.
EPA releases human health, environmental reviews on pesticides
The Environmental Protection Agency is releasing ecological and human health risk assessments on 21 pesticides, including a popular but controversial herbicide approved for use on genetically engineered soybeans earlier this year.
The assessments will be posted in regulatory dockets listed in today’s Federal Register notice. They include a review of isoxaflutole, a herbicide cleared for use on soybeans resistant to it, but only in specific counties in 25 states because of endangered species concerns.
Environmental groups have criticized the agency for approving the herbicide without going through the normal notice-and-comment period, which involves seeking input in a Federal Register notice.
U.S. ethanol exports below last year but distillers’ grains higher
U.S. ethanol exports dropped 23% in September to 77.2 million gallons (mg), which is 20% below levels at that same time last year, according to data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association.
Ethanol shipments to Canada dropped 11% to 13.6 million gallons, which is 42% of total exports. However, exports to India jumped 30% to 13.6 million gallons. Global year-to-date exports of U.S. ethanol reached 982.6 mg, which is 11% lower than this time a year ago. But dried distillers’ grains (DDGS) saw its largest monthly volume increase in five years, rising 14% in September to 1.16 million metric tons.
She said it: "Democrats continue to underestimate the deep-rooted center-right American electorate that resides outside urban areas.” That was media strategist Gloria Dittus, chairman of the public relations firm Story Partners.
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