Hundreds of business leaders, including some in the ag industry, are calling on Congress not to delay confirming the results of November’s presidential election. Congress is set to meet today to count the electoral votes.
The Business Roundtable, whose approximately 200 members include Archer Daniels Midland, Bayer, CF Industries, Corteva Agriscience, Land O’Lakes and Zoetis, issued a statement saying “there is no authority for Congress to reject or overturn electoral votes lawfully certified by the states and affirmed by the Electoral College. The peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of our democracy and should proceed unimpeded.”
A group called Partnership for New York City, which includes Continental Grain, issued a statement saying “This presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have won the Electoral College and the courts have rejected challenges to the electoral process.”
Bottom line: Despite expected challenges from more than 100 Republicans, the final tally is expected to end up with 306 electoral votes for Biden and 232 for President Donald Trump.
The business appeals could help Republican lawmakers who are resisting pressure from Trump to challenge the results, but the pleas are just as likely to fall flat with the party’s populist wing.
Biden’s EPA pick talks to ag leaders
EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan talked online Tuesday with 16 leaders of farm groups about his plans for the agency.
According to a readout provided by the transition team, Regan reiterated Biden’s “commitment to working with agricultural leaders to promote healthy and secure food supplies, clean air, and clean water.” There also was discussion of how EPA “will work closely with agricultural producers to find practical, common sense solutions to environmental challenges” and “harness the ingenuity of farmers and ranchers to promote clean energy and tackle climate change."
The ag leaders included Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America; Daren Coppock, president and CEO of the Ag Retailers Association; and CEOs of major commodity groups.
Farmers less optimistic about China, regs
Farmers are feeling better about the ag economy overall, but there’s growing concern about trade with China and the regulatory outlook back home. Those are among the findings of the latest monthly Ag Economy Barometer from Purdue University and the CME Group.
During the first quarter of 2020, 76% of farmers surveyed thought the U.S.-China trade deal would favor U.S. agriculture. Now that share is down to 47%, and only 51% of farmers expect ag exports to grow over the next five years.
More than 80% of farmers say they also expect environmental regulations to become more restrictive as a result of Joe Biden’s election, and 70% expect to face higher income and estate taxes.
Be sure and read this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter for the latest on the new COVID relief measures as well as a look at the challenges facing Ag Secretary-designate Tom Vilsack.
Wheeler: Dicamba lawsuit could have been prevented
If EPA’s science transparency rule had been in place earlier, EPA could have avoided last year’s appeals court decision vacating dicamba registrations, says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The rule is scheduled for publication in today’s Federal Register,
Speaking on a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) webinar, Wheeler said Tuesday the final rule requires EPA to provide more transparency for influential scientific information.
“If we would have done that upfront originally, on the original dicamba registration, I think we could have avoided the entire 9th Circuit decision and case,” Wheeler said.
A new lawsuit has been filed, challenging the latest dicamba registration decisions.
Reaction: CEI’s director of the Center for Energy and Environment, Myron Ebell, praised the new rule, saying it “makes significant incremental improvements in the way scientific studies are used in the regulatory process.”
But EPA is getting plenty of criticism, too. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the rule, “under the cynical guise of ‘strengthening transparency,’ would actually severely limit the scientific evidence the agency could use in its policy deliberations.”
UK trade negotiators focus on Japan pact
The UK, fresh from securing a trade pact with the European Union, is turning to Japan as they eye improving trade throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
“An FTA with Japan, the third largest economy in the world in 2018, represents significant opportunities throughout the economy, from agriculture to digital and to increase the resilience of our supply chains and the security of our whole economy as we diversify our trade,” the UK Department of International Trade said Tuesday.
After Japan, the UK says it will be expanding its scope and hopes to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The UK and U.S. have been negotiating a trade pact for months, but those talks have not resumed since the last round of negotiations in October.
Check out today’s Agri-Pulse newsletter to learn what’s at stake for the U.S. ag sector.
USDA setting up sustainability ‘dialogues’
USDA is organizing national “dialogues” on food system sustainability leading up to a UN summit in September.
The goal of the Food Systems Summit is to transform the way the world produces and consumes foods to address challenges of poverty, food security, malnutrition, population growth, climate change, and natural resource degradation. The summit will focus on five action tracks, including ensuring access to safe and affordable food and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.
From February through April, USDA says a broad base of stakeholders will be encouraged to organize “independent dialogues” that explore themes relevant to their interests and the summit’s action tracks. During June, USDA will facilitate an exchange of views “about the pathway towards sustainable national food systems and identify the intentions and commitments of different actors.”
He said it. “We’re looking at being able to get a few things that we can get done before we leave; a few things that’ll be teed up for that administration to be able to address very quickly,” – Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, when pressed by reporters for a timeline on implementing provisions of the new COVID aid package.
Among other things, Congress mandated a new round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments.
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