Trade has been the main attraction in agricultural news over the past week. Negotiations over the U. S. Mexico-Canada trade agreement is apparently heading down the home stretch. The nine-member USMCA working group has sent the White House a counteroffer concerning changes to the agreement that address Democrats’ concerns about labor, enforcement, drug pricing and environmental provisions. However, rank-and-file House Democrats are largely out of the loop on the trade talks with the Trump administration, and they’re starting to get restless as a potential vote comes closer.
Chinese trade officials were in Washington last week discussing plans for reconvening the U. S. – China trade talks in October. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had announced that the officials would visit farms in Nebraska and Montana on Friday, which raised hopes that China would make additional purchases of U. S. farm goods. But when the delegation backed out of the farm visits on Friday and returned to China sooner than expected, it was seen as a negative sign for the trade talks that sent the stock markets and commodity prices lower. The Trump administration released a brief statement after the trade talks wrapped up, saying only that the “discussions were productive” and the U. S. looks forward to a high-level meeting in October. Trump, said he’s not in any rush to reach a trade deal ahead of the 2020 election.
President Trump is scheduled to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in New York on Wednesday to discuss the trade deal in principle, that they announced when both attended the G-7 meeting in France. Neither side has provided details of the tentative agreement. The U. S. trade representative’s office reported that the agreement with Japan would “open up markets to over $7 billion” of U. S. farm exports and “lead to substantial reductions in tariff and non-tariff barriers, concerning beef, pork, wheat, dairy, wine, ethanol and other products. Japan is the No. 1 customer for U. S. pork in dollar terms, and is the third largest buyer of U. S. farm products, behind Number 1 Canada and number 2 Mexico.
The Journal Science recently reported the North American Continent’s bird population has declined by 3 billion birds since 1970, which is nearly 30% of the total bird population. According to results from the most comprehensive inventory ever done of North American birds. The losses have been caused by ecosystems in disarray because of habitat loss and other factors that have yet to be pinned down, according to researchers who conducted the survey. Most of the losses were not among rare species, but common ones across nearly every bird family and in all habitats. Specific birds included sparrows, swallows, blackbirds, thrushes, finches, warblers and meadowlarks. About 90% of the total loss came from just 12 bird families and 19 widespread bird species such as the dark-eyed junco, common grackle and house sparrows. The researchers tracked populations of 529 species using decades of bird counts taken on the ground as well as weather radar data that revealed similar declines in the volume of migratory birds. Grassland birds were particularly hard hit, with a 53% reduction in population, possibly due to agricultural intensification. A link to this article can be found at the Farm News and Views blog.
Today’s thought is from Playwright Arthur Miller. He said, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself”