Now that the stench has cleared from the barrage of attack ads leading up to last week’s election, it’s time for our government officials to pass a farm bill and end this costly trade war.
On the trade front, this the time of year when China typically purchases large shipments of U.S.-grown soybeans, but things no longer are typical.
According to recent data, Chinese buyers imported 7.59 million tons of Brazil soybeans in September, a 5.94 million ton increase from the previous year. Brazil accounted for 95 percent of the total 8.01 million tons imported that month, compared to 73 percent at the same time last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in its world agricultural supply and demand estimates it anticipates U.S. soybean stocks at the end of the 2018-2019 marketing year to reach 955 million bushels, up from the 885 million bushel projection in October. Ending stocks were 438 millions in 2017-2018 and 302 million bushels at the end of the 2016-2017 marketing year.
Corn also was impacted as China’s imports in September fell from 174,965 tons in 2017 to 515.7 tons this year. U.S. sorghum exports to China also were down 80 percent from last year.
The 2014 farm bill expired Sept. 30. Its fate still sits with the conference committee.
Major programs such as crop insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will continue even with the bill’s expiration because funding already has been appropriated or authorized in other laws.
The Conservation Reserve Program will continue to operate, but cannot make new agreements or award new grants — although the Natural Resources Conservation Service said it would maintain current CRP agreements.
Programs that aid military veterans entering farm, trade promotion and small rural businesses shut down with the farm bill’s expiration.
The inability to pass a farm bill on time seems to become the norm of recent. The 2014 farm bill took 21 months to finish and replace the 2008 farm bill. Congress approved a year-long extension on Jan. 2, 2013, for the 2008 farm bill after it expired Sept. 30, 2012.