Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States isn’t being tough enough when it comes to China. While President Joe Biden has maintained the Trump administration’s tariffs on China, Pompeo says more has to be done to curb China’s unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property.

“Trade rules have to be identical and reciprocal. It means they have to be fair,” Pompeo says in an interview for this week’s edition of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “There are scores of tools we can use,” he said, suggesting restrictions on Chinese access to U.S. capital markets.

As important as the Chinese market is to American agriculture, farmers have a lot to lose if the U.S. doesn’t get tougher, he says. “We spend billions of dollars on research, and they come work in our laboratories and steal the damn stuff. … That’s un-American. It is naive,” Pompeo said.

Farm income forecast masks sector-by-sector impact

USDA has sharply raised its forecast of U.S. farm earnings for the year. But the department says many producers are going to see somewhat lower net income as a result of the soaring cost of fertilizer and other inputs and a drop in government payments.

Net cash farm income is now forecast at $168.5 billion in 2022, an increase of $22.1 billion — or 15.1% over 2021 — and the highest level since 2012 when adjusted for inflation.

But USDA says farms producing corn will see their earnings slip by about 4% this year, when adjusted for inflation, while soybean growers will get 10% less. Wheat and cotton growers will see even larger drops in net cash farm income of 36% and 26% respectively.

The picture in the livestock sector is quite mixed. Dairy producers will see a whopping 60% increase in net cash income this year, and poultry producers are expected to make 5% more. But earrings are projected to decline 9% for cattle and 3% for hogs.

Keep in mind: Many groups are urging Congress to increase funding for farm bill commodity programs in 2023 in order to raise the reference prices that trigger payments under programs for grains and oilseeds. 

House Ag Dems fire back

A day after the House Ag Committee’s top Republican suggested the panel’s workload has been lagging, majority Democrats fired off a series of tweets laying out what the committee has done.

“Looking at the 117th Congress as a whole, the Committee has had quite a busy schedule,” committee Democrats say. The committee has logged 61 hearings and business meetings as well as five farm bill listening sessions. The committee also has moved 17 bills, eight of which have passed the House, Democrats point out.

Ranking Republican Glenn “GT” Thompson said at this week’s Farm Progress Show in Iowa that the committee was “two-and-a-half years late starting farm bill hearings.”

By the way: The Cook Political Report believes committee Democrat Abigail Spanberger is in better shape to win re-election in November, moving her race from toss-up to leans Democratic.

Spanberger, who represents a district that has been redrawn to include some of the Washington suburbs, chairs the Ag subcommittee that oversees conservation programs. Spanberger is hitting her GOP opponent hard on the abortion issue.

Cook also upgraded Democratic prospects in four other races.

Keep in mind: Republicans are still favored to win control of the House, even though Democrats appear to be on track to cut their losses significantly. Cook rates 214 races in Republicans’ favor, 188 in Democrats’ favor and 33 as toss-ups.

US engages EU on EV incentives

The European Union has openly criticized electric vehicle tax credits in a new U.S. climate bill, and the topic was one of several discussed Thursday by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

The Office of the USTR provided no details on the discussion, but said Tai noted the “shared need to increase investments in clean energy technologies to seriously combat the climate crisis, as well as to address supply chain and security vulnerabilities.”

The EU claims the tax credits break World Trade Organization rules.

Donated Ukrainian wheat will arrive as flour for Yemen

About 37,000 metric tons of wheat left Ukraine this week to be converted into much-needed flour for war-torn Yemen, according to the World Food Program.

The WFP and U.S. Agency for International Development purchased the Ukrainian wheat and are sending it to Turkey, where it will be milled before its final destination, according to USAID.

Ukraine can only export grain through its Odesa ports because of a recent deal with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.

“It is essential that parties continue to honor their commitments so that Ukraine’s grain can continue moving onto the global market as it is an essential food source to millions of people hardest hit by the staggering global food crisis facing the world today,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

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US donates $83M to bolster farming in troubled nations

The U.S. has committed $83 million to efforts by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to improve farming capabilities in countries like Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Sudan. The contribution comes on top of a recent $80 million pledge by the U.S. to strengthen farming in Afghanistan.

He said it. “Safeguarding the rural livelihoods of the vulnerable is central to averting catastrophe and saving lives through the development of local production,” – FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.