Congress is out this week, but Biden administration officials say they’ll continue to work with Senate Republicans toward an infrastructure deal. To recap, Republicans came back with a counter-offer last week of close to $1 trillion, which is still far under Biden’s last proposal of $1.7 trillion.
 Over the weekend, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN “it's very much going to be a work week for us and for the conversations that are ongoing with Congress. By the time that they return … we need a clear direction.”
 The top GOP negotiator, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, insists there is a “hunger for bipartisanship.”
 Capito quotes Biden as telling her: “‘Let's get this done.’ And I think that means that his heart is in it,” she told Fox News Sunday.
Biden budget spares farm programs
 One of the most notable things about President Joe Biden’s first budget is what’s not in it: cuts to farm programs or crop insurance. Biden’s budget also fully funds USDA’s network of county offices.
The budget details his plans to ramp up spending at the Agriculture Department for climate research and agricultural adaptation.
 But Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow reiterated that the money being proposed for climate-smart agriculture is less than what she thinks is needed.
She said she will “continue to push for additional investments that build on the President’s commitment to climate-smart agriculture.” She wants to add $50 billion in conservation spending to a climate and infrastructure bill.
By the way: USDA’s budget includes a defense of Biden’s proposal to tax capital gains at death and eliminate the stepped-up basis on inherited assets. USDA repeats an earlier assertion that only 2% of farms would face capital gains tax for as long as they stay in operation. Those 2% would owe tax on non-farm assets, USDA says.
 “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to American agriculture, family farms, ranches, and the rural way of life,” the budget says.
Military coup in Burma continues to depress US ag trade
 All of the U.S. shipments of ag commodities to Burma that were stuck in port as a result of the Feb. 1 military coup have been unloaded, but the country’s troubles are still hurting trade – particularly in soymeal – according to the latest analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
 The report from the FAS office in Rangoon explains “importers cannot place new orders due to the scarcity of shipping lines and high shipping costs. They have been largely unable to place new orders since the end of March. Sources indicate that some orders with U.S. suppliers have been cancelled after shipping lines denied shipments to Burma.”
 U.S. agricultural exports to Burma rose sharply over the past nine years, reaching about $167 million worth of soymeal, soybeans, distillers’ grains, wheat and other commodities in 2020, according to FAS data. Soymeal is the largest commodity sold to Burma by the U.S. The U.S shipped $92.3 million of it to Burma in 2020.
WTO green-lights panel to consider China’s tariffs on Australian barley
 The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body has agreed to set up a panel to consider Australia’s complaint that China is unfairly taxing Australian barley. China is imposing anti-dumping duties of 73.6 % and countervailing duties of 6.9% on Australian barley.
 The Chinese duties – imposed last year around the time that China lifted a ban on U.S. barley – are commonly seen by Australia as punishment for its demand for an international investigation into the source of the COVID-19 outbreak. China, according to a Geneva official, “said it would vigorously defend itself in the proceedings and was confident that the duty measures would be found consistent with WTO requirements.”
Take note: The WTO’s appeals court is still non-functional, and the U.S. continues to block the appointment of the appellate judges needed to get it up and running. Mexico, on behalf of more than 100 member countries, introduced another proposal to start the process of installing new appellate judges, but the U.S. “said it was not in a position to support the proposed decision” and “continues to have systemic concerns with the appellate body,” the Geneva official said
U.S. Meat Export Federation lauds diversification in meat exports
 Pork and beef shipments to some of the biggest U.S. markets were down in March, but overall exports hit new record highs thanks to the diversification of trade, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
 "Our leading pork market – China – was down significantly, yet pork exports still set new volume and value records,” says USMEF Chair Pat Binger, who also heads international sales for Cargill Protein North America. “The leading beef market – Japan – was also down, but beef exports set a new value record and beef muscle cut volume was the largest ever. We know there will always be twists and turns in our top markets, which makes diversification extremely important."
 Binger, in a statement after the USMEF annual Spring Conference this week, highlighted particularly strong export growth to countries in Southeast Asia, Central and South America and Africa.
Senate passes legislation to keep CFTC whistleblower office operating
 The Senate has passed a bill to keep the whistleblower office at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission operating.
The Customer Protection Fund, which is used to pay whistleblowers and help run the office, was nearing depletion due to the success of the program and award payments “to a growing number of highly qualified whistleblowers,” the National Whistleblower Center said.
 Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., worked with Ranking Member John Boozman of Arkansas and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley on the legislation.
He said it: “We’re based on an idea: that we hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men and women are created equal. We're unique in the world.” – President Joe Biden, in an address at Veterans Memorial Park, New Castle, Del., May 30.

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