Farmers are struggling this spring with sky-high production costs, but the bigger concern is whether there will be enough fertilizer and other inputs to go around for next season, according to Chuck Conner, CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

“That’s where we really are fearful at this point,” Conner said in an interview for Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. Availability of fertilizer and other inputs hasn’t been an issue this spring. Farmers “may not like the price, but it is available,” said Conner. 

Conner says NCFC is working with lawmakers and USDA to explore alternatives and remove obstacles around supply availability next year.

The co-ops welcomed the measures the Biden administration is taking to address input prices, including pledging $500 million to increase domestic fertilizer production. But “we have to acknowledge that they're probably not going to reverse this inflationary course,” Conner said.

This week’s Newsmakers will be available today at

CME: Crypto plan threatens markets

CME Group CEO Terrence Duffy is warning lawmakers there could be “catastrophic” consequences for futures markets if the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approves a plan by cryptocurrency exchange FTX to allow customers to buy leveraged crypto derivatives on a 24/7 basis. 

Duffy told the House Agriculture Committee the proposal would exempt FTX from “well-established” U.S. clearing rules and could “undermine confidence” in the U.S. regulatory regime.  Duffy said an auto-liquidation clause in the proposal would “destabilize markets for all participants.”

He urged CFTC to either reject the proposal or commence a formal rule-making.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said CFTC would have the final say on approving any other asset classes.

Ag Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., said he was “gravely concerned about the potential” of the FTX proposal to upset international agreements for regulating derivatives.

Lawmakers urge FDA to crack down on dairy standards of identity

Thirty-six House members are pushing FDA to crack down on the use of dairy terms for plant-based alternatives.

A bipartisan letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young cites a 2019 report that found plant-based imitation products are “not nutritionally equivalent to milk and in most cases should not be consumed by young children as a substitute for real dairy products.”

“We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the forthcoming guidance to move beyond the current practice of non-enforcement in the U.S. and require everyone to simply follow the law, which requires more than simply adding a plant-based signifier to a dairy term,” the legislators wrote.

BIO backs gene editing transparency framework

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is endorsing the Framework for Responsible Use of Gene Editing in Agriculture, a voluntary set of principles and commitments that call for transparency around the use of the technology.

“BIO believes that innovation flourishes when science and consumer values are aligned and complement one another,” said Sarah Gallo, BIO’s vice president, agriculture and environment.

The framework was released in March and has been endorsed by Cargill, Costco Wholesale, FMI-The Food Industry Association, Genus PLC, PepsiCo and Tropic Biosciences. It says that organizations using it “will, within the limits required to protect intellectual property and confidential business information, transparently share information and engage with stakeholders and consumers about the application of gene editing technologies.”

China buys 612,000 tons of US corn

The USDA on Thursday reported export sales of 612,000 metric tons of U.S. corn to China, most of which is for delivery in the 2022-23 marketing year. Just 68,000 tons of the sale was old crop, while 544,000 tons is new crop.

May started out with relatively weak export sales and shipments of U.S. corn. The latest weekly USDA data shows that the week of April 29 through May 5 was a marketing year low for corn sales with no new Chinese contracts for 2021-22 or 2022-23.

But Chinese buyers came in big this week and picked up the trend of strong purchases that persisted through April. USDA announced four separate daily grain sales of more than 1 million tons of corn to Chinese buyers in April.

By the way: USDA projected Thursday that U.S. corn production would drop more than 4% this year from 2021. Winter wheat production is expected to be down 8%.

Tai talks trade with Vietnam’s prime minister

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met Thursday to talk about bilateral trade issues with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and the Biden administration’s proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework – or IPEF – was a major topic during the discussion, according to the USTR’s office.

U.S. farm groups say they are keen to see Vietnam be included in the IPEF trade pillar because they want to see the country remove key trade barriers to beef, pork and grains.

 The U.S. supplies about 10% of Vietnam’s wheat imports, but that could be much higher if the country lifted sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, according to U.S. Wheat Associates.

He said it. “We have the largest, most liquid, most dynamic derivatives markets in the world because the potential for innovation is baked into our regulatory structure.” - Rep. Glenn Thompson, the ranking Republican on the House Ag Committee, at the FTX hearing.

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