Russia has taken steps to keep grain from leaving the country as the war in Ukraine drags on. The Russian government on Monday issued a temporary ban on wheat, rye, barley and corn to ex-Soviet countries in the Eurasian Economic Union.
The ban runs through June 30. The deputy prime minister said some grain that falls within the country’s quotas will be allowed for export under individual licenses, according to a Reuters report.
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Bayer says it will re-evaluate sales of inputs to Russia
Bayer said Monday it has stopped “all spending in Russia and Belarus that is not related to supplying essential products in health and agriculture,” including advertising and capital investment projects.
The company said it has already supplied key ag inputs to Russia for the 2022 growing season but “will closely monitor the political situation and decide about supplies for 2023 and beyond at a later stage, depending on Russia stopping its unprovoked attacks on Ukraine and returning to a path of international diplomacy and peace.”
In a statement Monday, the company also said seeds and other inputs, such as pesticides, “stand ready for the planting season for farmers in Ukraine.
Senators urge Biden to act on fertilizer, Canada rail strike
A group of 19 Republican senators is urging the White House to take action on fertilizer prices, warning that war in Ukraine, high energy prices and supply chain bottlenecks will drive already skyrocketing prices up further.
The group, led by Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty, told Biden in a letter he should consider "all available options" to lower the price of fertilizer.
They suggest Biden drop the cross-border vaccine mandate for commercial shippers, engage stakeholders to prevent a Canadian Pacific Railway strike, urge USDA to provide financial support to farmers facing financial hardship, add phosphate and potash to the Interior Department's Critical Minerals List, increase domestic gas production and approve pending export permits for liquefied natural gas.
Take Note: Another group of GOP senators, led by North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer, also urged action from the administration on a potential Canadian Pacific Railway strike, saying 15% of the railway’s business is fertilizer transport.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the railway operators, could begin striking as early as March 16 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached.
The group warned in a letter to Biden that a work stoppage would create a "freight capacity crisis" and have a "profound impact" on the ag industry.
White House hunger conference closer to reality
Lawmakers are putting some money behind the push to convene a White House hunger conference. The fiscal 2022 omnibus spending bill earmarks $2.5 million for the event, with the joint explanatory statement that accompanies the bill directing the conference to produce a report proposing ways to end hunger and improve nutrition security in the United States by 2030.
The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health is supposed to “examine why hunger and nutrition insecurity persist and how they affect health, including their role in the high prevalence of chronic disease,” the statement says. The Department of Health and Human Services is directed to convene the conference at some point this year with assistance from USDA and other agencies.
The conference has been a dream of Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, a senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and the chairman of the House Rules Committee.
The findings could inform development of the next farm bill, although experts say there is likely to be a heavy focus on issues like wages that are outside the purview of the legislation.
Meanwhile, today: The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference co-sponsored by the Food Research & Action Center and Feeding America kicks off today with appearances by five Biden administration cabinet secretaries, including Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, as well as an address by Ambassador Susan Rice, who is head of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, will speak Wednesday.
USTR emphasizes biotech during USMCA meeting
The U.S. on Monday again emphasized the need for science to be the core factor in approvals of biotech ag traits during a USMCA meeting with Mexican and Canadian officials.
Mexico has not approved a new ag biotech trait since May of 2018, creating a bottleneck that is now blocking about two dozen corn, canola, soybean, potato and apple traits. Furthermore, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that he intends to ban biotech corn for human consumption in 2024.
US has “deep concerns” on China’s alignment with Russia
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Chinese counterpart met for seven hours in Rome Monday to discuss “the whole range of issues in the U.S.-China relationship,” according to a senior administration official.
The U.S. has “deep concerns” on China’s alignment with Russia,” the official told reporters. The goal of the dialogue is to manage “the competition between our two countries to ensure that it does not veer into conflict.”
Weaker Brazil soy harvest more than 60% finished
Brazil’s farmers have harvested about 64% of the country’s soybean crop this year as analysts continue to examine yield damages because of weather, according to the consulting firm AgRural. While drought has hit the south hard, quality problems from excessive rains are still an issue for the harvest in states like Mato Grosso, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul.
The problems in Brazil are making old crop soybeans in the U.S. very competitive on the international market, says American Soybean Association economist Scott Gerlt, who spoke at the Commodity Classic last week in New Orleans.
“We’re at the same price or a little bit cheaper than Brazil right now for soybeans because of the production issues down there,” Gerlt said.
FCC looks to revise funding, other procedures in Rural Health Care Program
The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comment on revisions to its Rural Health Care Telecommunications Program rules in an effort to ensure rural healthcare providers get needed funding for broadband and telecommunications services.
In particular, the FCC wants to hear back on the best way to handle distribution of funds for multi-year commitments and upfront payments, which are capped within the overall RHC program. The commission’s proposal “would preserve the internal cap’s intended purpose of preventing multi-year and upfront payment requests from encroaching on the funding available for single-year requests,” the FCC said in today’s Federal Register.
The FCC also wants input on the definition of “rural area” in its regulations. The comment period runs for 30 days, with reply comments due 30 days after that.
They said it: “Ongoing supply-chain bottlenecks and the rising cost of energy are among the factors sending fertilizer prices soaring, and disruptions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will only compound the problem. As a result, Americans will pay more at restaurants, grocery stores, and other places.” – Letter from 19 Republican senators to President Joe Biden.
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