USTR to travel to Mexico for more USMCA talks
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng will travel to Mexico City July 7 to meet with Mexican Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier, resuming the U.S.-Mexico-Canada  talks that the three began in May, according to a statement released by the Office of the USTR.
The meetings are an opportunity to continue the productive dialogue established during the first Free Trade Commission meeting in May and show how the United States, Mexico, and Canada are working together as friends, neighbors, and allies to build a more competitive, inclusive and resilient North American economic partnership,” the U.S. agency said.
China buying new and old crop US soy
China is making big commitments for new crop U.S. soy, but the Chinese are also still buying up old crop beans even as they continue to empty Brazilian bins, according to the latest weekly trade data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
China purchased about 1.67 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year during the week of June 18-24, according to the FAS report. Bear in mind, USDA also reported export sales of 511,600 tons of new crop soybeans to “unknown destinations,” and much of that also may be going to China.
As for old crop, FAS says China bought 31,200 tons of U.S. soy during the seven-day period for delivery in the current 2020-21 marketing year that ends Aug. 31. U.S. exporters also shipped 9,500 tons of old crop beans to China during the week.
Smithfield agrees to pay $83M to settle direct buyers’ antitrust claims
Smithfield Foods says it has agreed to settle direct-purchaser class claims brought in an antitrust case in Minnesota for payment of $83 million. 
“While we deny any liability in these cases and believe that our conduct has always been lawful, we decided that it was in the best interests of the company to negotiate a settlement at this time,” said Keira Lombardo, the company’s chief administrative officer. “This settlement eliminates a substantial portion of our exposure in the antitrust litigation for an amount that we believe is in the best interests of our company, as well as our employees, customers and consumers.”
The terms of the settlement are subject to court approval following notice to all class members, Smithfield noted.
European Commission advances cage-free proposal for farm animals
The European Commission has announced it plans to have a legislative proposal to phase out caged farming of certain animals by 2023.
The announcement came as a response to a European citizens' initiative called “End the Caged Age,” which garnered more than a million signatures. The initiative specifically calls for a ban on caged farming of laying hens, rabbits, pullets, broiler breeders, layer breeders, quail, ducks and geese, and of farrowing crates for sows, sow stalls, and individual calf pens.
Though restrictions on cages are already in place for hens, broilers, sows, and calves, the group asks that there be no exceptions.
The proposed legislation will be included in the Farm to Fork Strategy, as a part of the revised animal welfare legislation, according to the EC, and the commission will consider the feasibility of implementing a total ban by 2027.
"Animals are sentient beings and we have a moral, societal responsibility to ensure that on-farm conditions for animals reflect this," EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.
Washington appeals court rejects dairy discharge permits

A Washington state court of appeals panel has invalidated two discharge permits granted to dairies in the Yakima Valley, finding they do not adequately protect surface waters and groundwater.

“Now comes more hard work because in Yakima County less than a fifth of CAFO dairies have permits,” said Jean Mendoza, executive director at Friends of Toppenish Creek in Yakima County. “We look forward to a time when all CAFOs in Washington are under a strong permit." 
Mendoza’s group was among a coalition of environmental groups that challenged the permits, including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Community Association for Restoration of the Environment, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Center for Food Safety.

In a news release Wednesday, the groups said they had “argued that state and federal law required more rigorous permit conditions, and that such measures were necessary to protect drinking water from nitrate pollution, and to protect shellfish beds and the public.”

Dan Wood, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation, said the group was disappointed with the decision’s finding that a method for determining when to make the first application of nitrogen fertilizer in spring applied to the entire state, not just Western Washington.

“We look forward to working with” the state’s Department of Ecology “to more thoroughly evaluate and incorporate proven technology and management practices into a new CAFO permit,” Wood said
Groups ask Iowa’s high court to revisit decision on Raccoon River

Two environmental groups are asking the Iowa Supreme Court to take another look at its 4-3 decision last month dismissing a lawsuit that sought mandatory controls on nutrient pollution in the state’s Raccoon River watershed.

“Specifically, because the state never contested the constitutional basis for the right to clean water, the court should have allowed the case to proceed,” Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch said in a news release announcing the filing of their petition for rehearing.

The court found the groups did not have standing to pursue their claims and that their attempt “to repurpose the historically narrow public trust doctrine to solve a complex environmental problem presents a nonjusticiable political question.”
Steve Davies, Annie Deckey and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.