“Nothing is going farmer’s way right now,” is former U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Block’s “hold your head in your hands” analysis of current issues – Crop reports showing bigger yields and more acres than anticipated, as well as demand being robbed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) small refinery exemptions for the oil industry. Not to mention, although he does, green cards.
Corn and soybean prices have taken a dive this week. USDA estimates our farmers planted 90 million acres of corn this year. The trade didn’t expect that many planted acres. If we really did plant that many, we are certain to see our yield decline because of the difficult planting season. Crop projections are only part of the hammer on our prices. President Trump does not sound optimistic about the trade deal any time soon. He is not even sure trade negotiators will be meeting in September. The U.S. has labeled China a “currency manipulator.” In a surprise announcement, the President will not impose an additional 10-percent tariff on $300 billion in Chinese exports in September. That’s good. Speculation is that China may be hoping to delay action until after the 2020 election. Get a good deal or keep the tariffs in place – that’s what Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley said.
Another costly development – the EPA is going to award 31 small refineries exemptions from the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard Compliance. Now the refineries will not be required to blend biofuels such as ethanol into gasoline. We’re talking about four billion gallons. Corn farmers and the ethanol industry are furious. That will cost farmers millions of dollars while Big Oil gets hundreds of millions. The EPA is doing one thing that we are happy about. They will no longer approve weed killer labels for RoundUp that say, “known to cause cancer.” California has been using such labeling. EPA says that labeling is “a false claim that does not meet federal government requirements.” Now we can expect a big fight in the courts.
Another big fight – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said no food stamps or other public aid to green card holders. Our law says government can deny entry or legal residency to immigrants deemed dependent on public assistance. That’s the law. The White House says the rule “will preserve our social safety net for vulnerable Americans.” Makes sense to me. Anti-hunger groups are already preparing to file lawsuits. Now our gun laws are on fire. Our government and our citizens are at war with each other, and don’t seem to want to find the middle ground.