Like many of you, I first learned about tariffs and the impacts on international trade and global economies from my history books. Now, one of the most common questions I get from farmers who see the word "tariff" in the news almost daily is "how do tariffs really work?"
New labels to inform you about the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your foods are on their way, even though there is no evidence that such products are any different from a nutrition or food safety standpoint. About two years ago, in an effort to fend off various state-by-state labeling schemes and more marketing confusion, Congress mandated that federal labels on all GMO-containing products in food stores inform consumers about the presence of GMOs.
One might wonder what unites two distinctly different U.S. Senators: one who is a GOP conservative from Utah and the other, a liberal democrat from New Jersey. But during recent debate on the farm bill, both united to restrict and reform farmer-funded commodity checkoff programs in the form of an amendment. Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., but was pulled from consideration before it could be debated during the House farm bill debate.
What would you do without your local veterinarian? More and more farmers and ranchers are finding out as many current professionals who handle large animals are retiring and new replacements are harder to find.
Since March, we've been watching a potential high-stakes trade war building between the U.S. and China — first over steel and aluminum, then hundreds of other targets were added to lists that each side threatened to harm with painful tariffs or other restrictions. The lists included everything from soybeans to pork, apples to nuts. Farmers and ranchers — who know they are usually one of the first targets of trade retaliation — were understandably nervous. Markets were depressed. And then some of those fears came true.
Shortly after the U.S. House of Representatives defeated the farm bill on June 20, 2013, Rep. Justin Amash, along with hundreds of business leaders, government officials and staff, attended a $250-a-plate dinner hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The libertarian group, which espouses "free market" principles, made a James Bond spoof video called "Capitalism Never Dies," and the group's president, Lawson Bader, sported a kilt in tribute to retired actor Sean Connery.
The recent decision by a U.S. Appeals Court dealt another blow to the Montana beef checkoff and signaled a significant victory for the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), an organization that's made no secret about its desire to challenge other state beef checkoff programs and more broadly, other checkoff programs.
If you followed Donald Trump's presidential campaign, you know that he talked tough on trade — especially when it came to countries he believed were giving the U.S. a raw deal. He pledged to either kill or renegotiate existing trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. He saved some of his harshest words for China. At one point during the campaign, candidate Trump declared that "we already have a trade war" with China and vowed to slap tariffs on Chinese products and label the Asian giant as a currency manipulator.
The farmers and ranchers who helped put Donald Trump into the White House still give him fairly high marks, but there appears to be some erosion in the number who would like to see him re-elected, according to a new Agri-Pulse survey. The nationwide telephonic survey of 750 farmers and ranchers covered a wide variety of topics, including perspectives on Trump's and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue's performance during their first year in office, top grower concerns and potential farm bill changes. The phone calls were conducted from Feb. 26-March 9 by Aimpoint Research.
The Republican Speaker of the House is committed to reforming welfare programs — including food assistance — to fulfill a campaign promise and reduce the federal deficit. But farm-state lawmakers are worried about holding together a fragile urban-rural coalition that has long been critical to passing a new farm bill.