By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Oct. 31 – The only remaining question before Tuesday's midterm elections is, as Congressional Quarterly puts, it, “whether it’s a tsunami or merely a big wave for the GOP.” Perhaps that explains why President Obama and Agriculture Sec. Vilsack are headed to India later this week.

No doubt this week's focus will be on analyzing the election results and recalculating whether the lame-duck congressional session which begins Nov. 15 will have any chance of passing stalled legislation. The legislation stymied until now by partisan warfare includes appropriations bills to fund the government, the START nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia, and ag-urgent items such as energy/climate legislation to include a renewable energy standard, and extending ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable energy tax breaks which either have already expired or expire Dec. 31.

Another focus will be on the Fed's announcement Wednesday on its target for purchasing Treasury bonds in one more effort to boost the sluggish U.S. economy. Anything less than a monthly target of $80 billion is considered likely to disappoint markets here and abroad.

Perhaps to change the subject from the elections and the economy, the White House will be focusing on President Obama's 10-day bridge-building, trade-promoting Asian trip which starts Friday. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will begin the trip in India where items on the agenda include boosting U.S. agricultural exports to India, global food security, and discussing India's remarkable success in using agricultural development policies to spur overall economic growth. The U.S. and India hope India's innovative approaches can be applied to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes explains that since Asia has the world's fastest growing markets, the President's trip is aimed at “expanding exports for U.S. goods, deepening partnerships in this important part of the world, partnering together in the G20 and other forums . . . if you look at the United States economy and where we’re going to have to export our goods and create jobs and deepen our partnerships, it’s very much in Asia.” He says Asia's growing markets “are going to be fundamental to our export initiative of doubling exports.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman adds that with India “expected to grow at 8% a year for the next several years, we really see India as a potentially very important market for U.S. exports.”

The White House also stresses that the Asian trip will take the President to four thriving democracies – India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan – four countries which prove that democracy is a formula for prosperity not only in the West but in Asia as well.

With his next stop in Indonesia, President Obama will highlight “cooperation with the Indonesians on climate change, where Indonesia has been a leader in the developing world . . . taking a very aggressive position on curtailment of emissions.”

Next, it's on to South Korea for the G20 meeting and discussions on the long-stalled U.S./South Korea Free Trade Agreement. While there, President Obama also will hold his seventh bilateral meeting with China's President Hu Jintao to “work together to assure the global economy recovers on a balanced and sustainable basis” and to discuss trade issues. Among the G20 topics: renewable energy and “the phasing out of certain kinds of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Finally, the trip will conclude in Japan, with more focus on “our aggressive efforts to increase our economic engagement and our exports in Asia.” There will also be time for Obama's first bilateral meeting with Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister Gillard and a bilateral meeting with Russia's President Medvedev.

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, November 1, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, November 2, Weather-Crop Summary, Dairy Products

  • Wednesday November 3, Broiler Hatchery

  • Friday, November 5, Dairy Products Prices, Peanut Prices

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