WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2016 - It won’t be long before Congress comes back after the elections and the Obama administration is still counting on lawmakers to hold votes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Much of the agriculture sector has continued to offer strong support for the 12-country pact that’s expected to boost exports and farm revenues. But criticism is also pouring in.
The AFL-CIO released a scathing 16-page report Tuesday, predicting that the TPP will hurt the poorest people in Mexico as well as other non-TPP countries, forcing them out of jobs that will go to countries like Vietnam.
Besides the U.S., the other 11 TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Vietnam already sells about $11 billion worth of textiles to the U.S. If the TPP is ratified, the AFL-CIO report says, those sales will sharply increase, making it impossible for textile countries in Central American countries to compete.
“Much Central American production could transfer to Vietnam, with its lower wages and authoritarian regime, further degrading Central America’s jobs base and uprooting those dependent on textile jobs,” the report says.
Many of those affected, the report concludes, will end up trying to emigrate to the U.S. legally or illegally.
Obama to meet with TPP country leaders. President Barack Obama is going to the road again next month in what may be his last presidential overseas trip. The first half of the week-long trip will be spent in Greece and Germany, but from Nov. 18 through Nov. 20, Obama will be in Peru for the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit. It’s there that Obama will huddle with leaders of the other 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that the White House still hopes Congress will ratify this year.
Grassley complimentary of Obama administration antitrust efforts. Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley has some good things to say about antitrust enforcement under the Obama administration despite some previously stated qualms with how the administration doled out regulatory responsibility. Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Grassley said he expects to see tough scrutiny of mergers no matter if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is elected. He went as far as saying he expects “more vigorous” antitrust oversight from the next president, even though he said he thinks "Obama has done a fair job in that area.”
Grassley has previously expressed frustration at the fact that different entities (the Department of Justice and the Foreign Trade Commission) are currently handling investigations into different ag company mergers in the United States. He’s also said that he wants to see a greater role for the Department of Agriculture in the process. 
To hear more from Grassley on the subject, click here
Court weighs in on beef checkoff.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana held its first hearings on a lawsuit brought by R-CALF USA over administration of the beef checkoff, and representatives for the organization feel good about the day’s proceedings. R-CALF USA originally brought the lawsuit in May after complaints that the Montana Beef Council helped fund Wendy’s marketing efforts to promote North American, rather than U.S. beef. That’s a burr under the saddle for R-CALF membership, a staunch proponent of country-of-origin labeling. The lawsuit contends that producers in the state are being required to fund speech with which they might not agree, a violation of the first amendment.
“The hearing went on for about an hour, and I would say 40 minutes of it was the government getting asked questions and then its rebuttal,” said David Muraskin, an attorney with Public Justice who is representing R-CALF USA in the case. “I’m hopeful that the court’s litany of questions for the government is indicative of its concerns with the government’s position, which is just inconsistent with the case law.”
Muraskin said the two sides were told to expect a ruling “shortly,” although no exact time was given. The court is considering USDA’s motion to dismiss the case as well as R-CALF USA's motions for summary judgment and a temporary restraining order.
HSUS loses farmers on advisory council. A few years ago, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) highlighted Nebraska farmer Kevin Fulton as the kind of holistic, free-range farmer that embodies how the group believes farming and ranching should be done. HSUS said it acted on Fulton’s suggestion when it began putting together state advisory councils that advocated against gestation crates and other controversial “factory farming” techniques.
But much of that good will has evaporated. Fulton, in long and scathing Facebook messages, said he was pushed out and many other farmers have quit the state councils. He said they are demanding HSUS stop using their names and likenesses.
“We feel like you have used our images long enough to your benefit and we no longer want to be associated with your disingenuous organization! Some of us asked that they be removed a long time ago,” Fulton said in a posting. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Update your website.”
Agri-Pulse contacted HSUS.  Michael Markarian, the organization’s chief operating officer, said that while Fulton and others are indeed no longer on the state councils, plenty remain.
“We are grateful for the work Kevin Fulton did with us as a volunteer, and we hope he’ll continue to advocate for more humane and sustainable agriculture and raise awareness about the problems with factory farming,” Markarian said. “Even though a few members left the council, we have 50 active farmers and ranchers with our various agriculture advisory councils representing 13 states. Kevin had told us recently that we could use his photos, but if he doesn’t want us to use them in the future, of course we’ll be happy to honor that, and we have plenty of other photos to fight factory farming and promote family farmers.”
Trump gains more Aggies. The list of Trump supporters from rural America keeps growing with people like Charles Bronson, former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; Tom Ewing, a former Illinois Congressman and House Ag Committee member; Bill Flory, former President of the National Association of Wheat Growers; John Harris with Harris Ranch in California; Phil Nelson, former president of the Illinois Farm Bureau; Kimberly Reed, President at International Food Information Council Foundation; and others. We’ve got the new list here.
Presidential poll results. We’ve got results from our latest presidential poll coming out in today’s Agri-Pulse e-newsletter. You’ll learn about who farmers and ranchers support for president and what the issues are that keep them up at night. If you don’t currently subscribe to the newsletter, send a note to Sandi@Agri-Pulse.com Don’t miss out any longer…..
Spencer Chase and Sara Wyant contributed to this report. 


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