Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the January 29th edition of Farm News and Views.
The end of the government shutdown is a relief for the 800,000 federal workers who haven’t received a paycheck since the shutdown started on December 21st . At this stage, it is unknown how fast the USDA will get the normal programs back on track, but farmers and ranchers who’ve not been able to negotiate loans, sign up for government crop and conservations programs are ready to get to work on planing for the 2019 growing season.
The ag industry has also been flying blind when it comes to market research reports that livestock and grain traders depend on to conduct their normal course of business. ,
On January 27th, a new report by The Lancet Commission on Obesity stated that “leaders must take a hard line against powerful commercial drivers and rethink global economic incentives within the food system in order to tackle the joint pandemics of obesity, undernutrition and climate change.”
The report was developed over the past three years by 26 experts from 14 countries, representing the University of Auckland in New Zealand, George Washington University in the U.S. and the World Obesity Federation in the United Kingdom, who developed the report over the past three years. The new Lancet Commission is the result of a three-year project led by 26 experts from 14 countries.
Commission co-chair, Professor Boyd Swinburn of the University of Auckland stated that “Until now, undernutrition and obesity have been seen as polar opposites of either too few or too many calories. In reality, they are both driven by the same unhealthy, inequitable food systems, underpinned by the same political economy that is single-focused on economic growth, and ignores the negative health and equity outcomes.”
They are calling for a global treaty to limit the political influence of Big Food, while advocating the redirection 5 trillion dollars in government subsidies away from harmful products, while breakiing policy inertia.
The commission report stated that although food clearly differs from tobacco, because it is a necessity to support human life, unhealthy food and beverage products like energy-dense snacks, confectionery, and sugary drinks are not a necessity, and the damage they cause have some commonality with tobacco.
Let’s shift gears to trade tariff wars with China. They’ve created some strange linkages. For some background, the United States is the number one producer of soybeans, growing 31% of the worlds total production. Brazil is number two with 25% and Argentina is number three, with 15% of the total.
Argentina has not imported beans since they got their domestic production geared up a decade or so ago. However, when China cutback on purchasing U. S. beans, they turned to Brazil and Argentina. Both countries were happy to make up the shortfall from the U. S., so China went on a buying binge in South America. But when the dust settled, Argentinian soybean crushers, who supply the domestic soybean meal and oil demand, found themselves short of beans. Turning to the world market, they found beans from the U. S., at bargain basement prices, caused U. S and China have been in a trade scuffle that started early last summer.
Speaking of trade tariffs, Politico”s Morning Agriculture reported Monday that President Trump’s ability to impose tariffs for national security reasons would be limited under a draft bill expected to be released in each chamber of Congress as soon as this week.
Today’s thought comes from 19th century writer, Robert G. Ingersoll. “The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and a traitor to himself and his fellow men.”
Until next week. I’m Bob Bragg