Capitol Hill is reeling from Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as House speaker. The outcome further clouds prospects for passing a new farm bill, when it already appeared the House was going to be locked down for weeks to come in a battle over spending legislation. 

McCarthy said in press conference that he won’t run for speaker again and would have Republicans “pick somebody else.”

Allies of McCarthy were furious that hardline conservatives joined with Democrats on the 216-210 vote to push out McCarthy.

“Today was one of the most frustrating and self-destructive days I have seen in Congress. By joining with Democrats, a small splinter group has removed the most conservative Speaker of the House we have likely ever had,” said Doug LaMalfa, a California Republican on the House Ag Committee. “The likely outcome when the dust settles will be with Democrats holding more power and Republican priorities sidelined.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., said McCarthy’s ouster will “empower those who want to increase spending and those who want to give a blank check to Ukraine.”

Keep in mind: McCarthy, whose district is in California’s Central Valley. was seen as an advocate for agriculture interests for getting a farm bill. 

Climate change will increase corn yields, depress soybeans, ERS finds

Climate change could cause U.S. corn yields to rise 3.1% by 2036, and soybean yields to fall by about the same amount, according to a new report from the Economic Research Service.

The results “are driven primarily by the increased frequency of periods of extreme heat and declines in precipitation in counties east of the 100th meridian part of the United States,” the report said.

The 100th meridian historically has divided the arid west from the more humid eastern part of the U.S.

ERS’s model found that when keeping yields constant in other countries, U.S. corn exports would increase 0.36%, or the equivalent of $63 million. The soybean decline, by contrast, would lead to a 1.17% drop in U.S. exports – equal to $319 million based on 2016 exports.

Ag will take spotlight in new round of US-Kenya talks

The U.S. and Kenya will begin a new round of talks in Washington today to negotiate a trade and investment pact, and agricultural policy will be one of the primary topics of focus during the four days of meetings, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The first round of talks was held in April in Nairobi.

Some in the U.S. ag sector are still hoping U.S. negotiators will address Kenya’s import tariffs. U.S. rice exports face a 35% ad valorem tariff – about $200 per metric ton – in Kenya.

U.S. farmers could benefit from better access to East African markets, then-USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh said after visiting Kenya and Tanzania last year. 

“We realize that there are tariffs that exist on U.S. imports into East Africa, and there is a hope that we will move towards more discussion,” she said at the time.

Keep in mind: Kenyan President William Ruto drew U.S. praise last year when the country ended its decade-long ban on growing and importing genetically modified crops.

NCGA introduces new president

Minnesota farmer Harold Wolle started his new job as president of the National Corn Growers Association this week and the group introduced him to ag reporters Tuesday at a virtual press conference.

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Wolle, who takes over the revolving one-year presidential term from fellow Minnesota farmer Tom Haag, said his priorities will include protecting crop insurance and beefing up safety net programs like Price Loss Coverage and Agricultural Risk Coverage in the farm bill. Wolle also stressed the importance of expanding ethanol fuel use and his support for increased funding for USDA’s export promotion programs.

“We have the ability to make some improvements to the farm bill that would help all of our farmers and that’s what we need to concentrate on,” he said.

Global poultry market positioned to grow heading into 2024

The global poultry market is well positioned to gradually improve in the last quarter of 2023 and early 2024, following several months of slow growth, according to a recent poultry outlook report released by Rabobank

“After a period of slow poultry consumption growth due to a weak global economy and rising prices resulting from cost increases, global demand has room for some recovery, driven mainly by lower feed costs and, therefore, lower chicken prices,” the report notes. “Markets will stay highly price-driven, but poultry should be able to benefit from its relatively competitive pricing in many markets compared to other proteins like beef, pork and alternative proteins.”

Senators seek better tracking of forests’ carbon impacts

Three senators have introduced a bill that would require the Agriculture Department to create a system for measuring and monitoring data about carbon impacts from forest management.

The Timber Innovation for Building Rural Communities Act — introduced by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho — would also create the Rural Infrastructure and Building Pilot Program, which would fund pilot programs that “demonstrate the use of innovative wood products in the construction and renovation of rural infrastructure and building projects.”

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