Tag Archives: Trade

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of Iowa soybean farmers will travel to China this week in hopes of smoothing over any rift in the trade relationship caused by the Trump administration’s announced tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Iowa Soybean Association President Bill Shipley says now isn’t the time for the U.S. to retreat as a trusted source of soybeans because U.S. commodity prices are sliding and other countries are ramping up production.

Nearly one of every four rows of soybeans grown in Iowa is destined for China. Last year’s Iowa crop was valued at more than $5 billion.

The soybean group’s CEO Kirk Leeds says agriculture trade is often the first casualty in any trade war or retaliation but Iowa farmers want to tell the Chinese personally of their commitment to maintaining trade.

LINCOLN — What are the local impacts of global changes and what do they mean for Nebraska are two questions that will be addressed during the final Heuermann Lecture of the 2017-18 season March 13. The lecture will be at 3:30 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln.

The free event is being held in conjunction with the CME Group Foundation Symposium, “Changing Governments, Changing Trade: Impacts from Global to Local,” hosted by the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The symposium will highlight the importance of international trade to Nebraska’s economy. Panelists scheduled to participate in the Heuermann Lecture are Andrea Durkin, editor-in-chief for TradeVistas, and Brian Kuehl, executive director for Farmers for Free Trade.

The theme for the seventh year of Heuermann Lectures is “Think Globally, Act Locally.” The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

Lectures are streamed live at http://heuermannlectures.unl.edu/ and air live on campus channel 4. Lectures are archived after the event and are later broadcast on NET2.

Advance registration is required to attend the symposium. To register, click here.

KEARNEY – Governor Pete Ricketts was presented with two awards this month honoring his leadership in growing Nebraska agriculture.  Last week, Governor Ricketts received the “2018 Agri-Award” at the Triumph of Agriculture Exposition.  On Wednesday night at the 30th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference, he was presented with the “Nebraska and Beyond” award from the Commodity Markets Council (CMC).

“Agriculture is the backbone of our state and the number one key to growing Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts.  “I am honored to receive these awards on behalf of our team, which has successfully partnered with farmers and ranchers across our state to grow opportunities in agriculture.  We will continue to work together to move agriculture forward for future generations of Nebraskans.”

The Agri-Award was established in 1976 by the Triumph of Agriculture Exposition to recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to agriculture in the Midwestern area.  The Triumph of Ag Expo is considered to be the area’s largest indoor short-line farm machinery show and serves as an opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and their families to learn about ways to improve their farm/ranch operations from leading farm and ranch manufacturers and suppliers.

“Congratulations to Governor Ricketts on winning the 2018 Agri-Award,” said Bob Mancuso, Jr., Triumph of Ag Expo Director.  “The Governor has been a staunch advocate for agriculture in Nebraska since his first day in office.  He has advocated on behalf of Nebraska agriculture on international trade missions, worked for and delivered property tax relief, and helped grow value-added agriculture in our state.”

Past Agri-Award winners include:

  • Greg Ibach – Former Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture
  • Bill Northey – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
  • Leif Magnusson – President of CLAAS
  • Tony Raimondo – CEO of Behlen Manufacturing Company
  • Dave Heineman – Former Nebraska Governor
  • Mike Johanns – Former Nebraska Governor, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and former U.S. Senator
  • Ben Nelson – Former Nebraska Governor and former U.S. Senator
  • Bob Kerrey – Former Nebraska Governor and former U.S. Senator
  • Larry Sitzman – Former Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture

CMC Chairman Charles Carey presented the “Nebraska and Beyond” award to Governor Ricketts for his efforts and leadership in growing demand for Nebraska ag products both domestically and internationally.  The award specifically recognizes the Governor’s work in marketing Nebraska agriculture by building and maintaining global relationships, which in turn create demand for Nebraska ag commodities.  The CMC is the leading trade association for commodity futures exchanges and their industry counterparts.

“We applaud Governor Ricketts’ drive and desire to tackle the large issues facing everyone involved in food, fiber, and energy production,” said CMC Chairman Carey.   “Governor Ricketts has been a leader in building foreign trade relationships that help create demand for Nebraska ag commodities.  His leadership has helped create new trade opportunities for Nebraska ag, such as his work to ensure that a Nebraska company was the first to ship beef to China after its market re-opened to U.S. beef after a 13-year ban.”

The Governor’s Ag Conference is an annual event that provides an opportunity for Nebraska ag producers across the state to hear prominent speakers in the ag industry, network, share ideas and concerns, and learn more about the future of agriculture in the state.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday said North American neighbors Canada and Mexico will get no relief from his new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports unless a “new and fair” free trade agreement is signed.

The Trump administration says the tariffs are necessary to preserve the American industries — and that doing so is a national security imperative. But Trump’s latest tweets suggest he’s also using the upcoming tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest round of a nearly year-long renegotiation effort is concluding this week in Mexico City.

The tariffs will be made official in the next two weeks, White House officials said Monday, as the administration defended the protectionist decision from critics in Washington and overseas.

Speaking on “Fox and Friends” Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: “25 percent on steel, and the 10 percent on aluminum, no country exclusions — firm line in the sand.”

Trump’s pronouncement last week that he would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets and rankled allies. The president appeared unbowed Sunday, as he tweeted that American “Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change!”

The across-the-board action breaks with the recommendation of the Pentagon, which pushed for more targeted tariffs on metals imports from countries like China and warned that a wide-ranging move would jeopardize national security partnerships. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversaw reviews of the industries that recommended the tariffs, said Sunday ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is “talking about a fairly broad brush.”

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the sweeping action would let China “off the hook,” adding the tariffs would drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies.

“China wins when we fight with Europe,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” ”China wins when the American consumer has higher prices because of tariffs that don’t affect Chinese behavior.”

Trump has threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to the president’s plan to increase duties on steel and aluminum.

British Prime Minister Theresa May raised her “deep concern” at the tariff announcement in a phone call with Trump Sunday. May’s office says she noted that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity.”

But Ross rejected threats of retaliation from American allies as “pretty trivial” and not much more than a “rounding error.”

And Navarro argued Monday that “there are virtually no costs here.”

“If you put a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, it’s a cent and a half on a six pack of beer and it’s $25,000 on a $330 million (Boeing 777),” Navarro said.

Trade politics often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines, as politicians reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers. But rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party — leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.

Labor unions and liberal Democrats are in the unusual position of applauding Trump’s approach on grounds it will bolster jobs in a depleted industry, while Republicans and an array of business groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes ahead with the tariffs.

“Good, finally,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and progressive as he cheered Trump’s move. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who has called for Trump to resign, agreed.

“I urge the administration to follow through and to take aggressive measures to ensure our workers can compete on a level playing field,” Casey tweeted.

As a candidate, Trump made his populist and protectionist positions on trade quite clear, at times hitting the same themes as one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class,” Trump told voters in the hard-hit steel town of Monessen, Pennsylvania, during one of his campaign stops. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Trump’s criticism of trade agreements and China’s trade policies found support with white working-class Americans whose wages had stagnated over the years. Victories in big steel-producing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana demonstrated that his tough trade talk had a receptive audience.

Both candidates in a March 13 House election in Pennsylvania have embraced the president’s plans for tariffs. They addressed the topic Saturday in a debate that aired on WTAE in Pittsburgh.

“For too long, China has been making cheap steel and they’ve been flooding the market with it. It’s not fair and it’s not right. So I actually think this is long overdue,” said Democratic candidate Conor Lamb.

“Unfortunately, many of our competitors around the world have slanted the playing field, and their thumb has been on the scale, and I think President Trump is trying to even that scale back out,” said Republican candidate Rick Saccone.

But Trump’s GOP allies on Capitol Hill have little use for the tariff approach. They argue that other industries that rely on steel and aluminum products will suffer. The cost of new appliances, cars and buildings will rise if the president follows through, they warn, and other nations could retaliate. The end result could erode the president’s base of support with rural America and even the blue-collar workers the president says he trying to help.

“There is always retaliation, and typically a lot of these countries single out agriculture when they do that. So, we’re very concerned,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., asked the administration to reconsider its stance. He said American companies could move their operations abroad and not face retaliatory tariffs.

“This scenario would lead to the exact opposite outcome of the administration’s stated objective, which is to protect American jobs,” Walker said.

Tim Phillips, president of the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, noted that Trump narrowly won in Iowa and Wisconsin, two heavily rural states that could suffer if countries impose retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural goods.

“It hurts the administration politically because trade wars, protectionism, they lead to higher prices for individual Americans,” Phillips said. “It’s basically a tax increase.”

ANAHEIM, Calif. (DTN) — As the Commodity Classic show and expo wrapped up, farmers walked away worried they were seeing demand being undercut for both corn and soybeans because of different policy choices.

Farmers were again watching actions at the White House throughout Thursday. Leaders of the American Soybean Association became anxious about import tariffs on steel and aluminum leading to a trade backlash. Meanwhile, corn growers watched for news out of yet another White House meeting on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue walked off the stage after a brief forum that focused heavily on the RFS to take immediate questions about fears that China could retaliate against President Donald Trump’s move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“They (China) understand they are a huge part of our (U.S.) market, and they before have used their ability to use retaliatory measures against agriculture,” Perdue said.

Perdue said USDA is preparing to help from a “mitigation perspective” if there are market disruptions. But he said the U.S. isn’t responsible for another country’s retaliatory actions.

“We’re hoping to communicate to them that we have a great product and willing to move in the marketplace,” Perdue said. “We have to go find markets elsewhere as we have already been trying to be doing.”


Soybeans amount to $14 billion in export value to China, making it the largest U.S. commodity shipped there.

“We certainly are nervous about it,” said Richard Wilkins, a Delaware farmer and former president of the American Soybean Association. “We are taking a message to point out to some members of Congress who are up for reelection this year that the value of agricultural exports from their own states are more important than the value of steel imports.”

While soybean farmers are worried, the tariff decision did not translate into a backlash Thursday against soybean prices. The May soybean contract was up 12.4 cents to $10.68 a bushel, and the November contract was up 5.6 cents to $10.38 a bushel. The announcement of tariffs was overwhelmed by the announcement in Argentina that its crops are poor this year and the country is lowering its harvest outlook on soybeans by 3 million metric tons, said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

That market move wasn’t lost on John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association and a farmer from Keota, Iowa. He noted soybean prices have been coming up during the last two weeks because of dry conditions in Argentina. But if China chooses to retaliate, it could be devastating to the American soybean farmer, he said.

“Brazil has got a pretty big crop, and they (China) can buy more from them for a while,” Heisdorffer said. “Brazil has so many acres they can put into production pretty fast. Let’s say if we lose 20% to 30% of our market, and they pick it up, then what happens?”

Heisdorffer pointed to the market response after China announced it was investigating sorghum imports. “The deal with sorghum was a shot across the bow,” Heisdorffer said.


During his forum, Perdue pointed out that there are a lot of challenges in commodities right now with prices and supply. With that, producers need to talk more about solutions, which includes looking at possible demand points when it comes to biofuels.

“It’s been a huge part of the success of agriculture, and this is not the time to decrease demand. Obviously there are a lot of challenges out there with prices and supply,” he said. Perdue added, “I’m a grow-demand kind of guy. I don’t like to limit supply. I like to grow demand.”

Still, the secretary stressed that farmers have to engage in “uncomfortable conversations” that could lead to changes between EPA and refiners but still grow the market for ethanol, particularly E15.

“I know a lot of people think that it does,” Perdue said. “My point is we can no longer sit back and say there is no problem at all, or we don’t have to do anything. We have got to engage and we have got to find solutions that can do the two things I’m talking about — and that is maintain, at a minimum, the volume we have now and grow that volume to the RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) waiver for E15 and growing the demand in an organic kind of way, not necessarily in a compliance kind of way.”

Perdue said he believes the markets and growth will be there for American agriculture in the future even if it has been slow expanding markets either domestically or internationally at the moment.

“It’s brutal right now. Let’s not sugarcoat it. It’s tough,” Perdue said of farmer economics, adding that more farmers are taking jobs in town. He added, “Not everybody survives in any small business or any large business in that regard.”

Jon McClure, a farmer from Stafford, Kansas, said he sent Perdue a letter Thursday morning thanking him for coming out to Commodity Classic. McClure said he understood it has been a stressful week, but McClure stressed the importance of ethanol to his farm.

“The fact that Big Oil is coming after us tells us how much they want us to go away,” McClure said. “If I lose ethanol, I am done.”

McClure also told Perdue his cattlemen neighbors depend on trade. Then, McClure pointed to the situation with steel and aluminum tariffs.

“The soybean folks here today are scared to death about what’s going on,” McClure said. “But I just came out of a meeting where if we can hold our ground, the future is bright. So the seas are really rocky right now, and we are really counting on you, sir.”

Pam Johnson, an Iowa farmer and former president of the National Corn Growers Association, asked Perdue if he supported a cap on renewable identification numbers, or RINs. She said a cap on RINs would limit the demand for ethanol and not allow corn farmers to grow demand. “So we are totally against a cap on RINs,” she said.

Perdue responded, “No, I don’t think a cap on RINs are the solution, but we have got to engage, obviously, in how to use this opportunity to grow demand rather than just saying everything is fine and there is no problem. You can’t just sit back and say, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ Let’s be smart about it and innovate the way farmers do.”

Johnson said after the forum that Perdue’s comments did not ease her fears that changes in the RFS could jeopardize corn demand, not just this year, but long term. “I am thankful that he is open to sit at a table and hear the voice of why (RINS) really matter,” she said. “I would like to believe and be reassured, but I believe in trust but verify.”

Thursday morning, Perdue met with leaders from the various commodity groups with a big focus on how to grow demand through trade and also how to “engage honestly and forthrightly into the RFS issue.”


In the afternoon, various farm groups issued statements expressing frustration over the risks of trade retaliation or risks of losing biofuel demand. The one resounding theme was of uncertainty as groups representing producers struggling with continued low prices fear lower demand for their crops.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), which markets wheat in foreign markets, and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), which represents growers, said they are extremely disappointed in the tariff decision.

“We have repeatedly warned that the risks of retaliation and the precedent set by such a policy have serious potential consequences for agriculture. It is dismaying that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that is already among the most protected in the country,” the two groups said.

Following the third White House meeting on the RFS, Kevin Skunes, a North Dakota farmer and president of NCGA, again asked a question corn farmers have been asking of EPA and White House officials all week. “What is the problem you are trying to solve?” Skunes asked.

Citing an EPA study from November, Skunes pointed out refiners are recovering the cost of RINs through the prices they receive for refined products and that RIN values are not causing economic harm to refiners.

“For farmers, ethanol blending equals corn demand. Farmers care about RIN values, not because we want them to be high, but because we want the RIN market mechanism to work freely to incentivize blending,” Skunes said. “Increased blending will, in turn, lower RIN values, exactly the way the RFS is intended to work. Government manipulation of the RIN market, on the other hand, disrupts the incentive to blend.”