Trump Administration to Release 5-Year Dietary Guidelines Today

Posted on 12/29/2020 8:05 AM

Graphic review of ag-related payments in latest Covid aid package | WHIP+ payment update


In Today’s Updates


Market Focus:
• U.S. equities look to continue post-Christmas rally
• Traders boost bets against dollar to highest in almost a decade
• Bird flu continues to spread in South Korea
Talks today aimed at ending prolonged Argentine strike
• Brazilian flour mills feeling the impact of Argentina’s strike
• Cordonnier cuts Argentine crop estimates amid dry weather
• Consultant stays the course on Brazilian crop projections


Policy Focus:
• CFAP 2 payments at $12.96 billion
• Graphic review of ag-related payments in latest Covid aid package
• If you are still expecting WHIP+ payments, they should come ‘soon’


China update:
• China slashes Australian wheat imports
• Chinese meat association recommends suppliers should disinfect cold-chain meat products


Trade Policy:
• EU ambassadors approve Brexit trade deal


Food & beverage industry update:
• Trump administration to release 5-year dietary guidelines today

Coronavirus update:
• In Britain, 41,385 new covid-19 cases had been confirmed, a record daily number
• Novavax is starting a new Covid-19 vaccine trial
• Kamala Harris to receive Covid-19 vaccine


Politics & Elections:
• Biden accuses Trump administration of obstructing his incoming team
• House votes 322 to 87 to override Trump's veto of annual defense bill
• House approves increasing stimulus checks to $2,000; Senate outlook uncertain

Other Items of Note:
• Executive order extending ‘pause’ on processing U.S. immigration visas expires Thursday
• India’s farmer protests
• Court blocks Labor Department H-2A wage changes, freeze





Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly up overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings and new record highs. In Asia, most major benchmarks climbed by the close of trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 2.7%, ending the day at a 30-year high. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.5%. European markets are also responding positively to the post-Brexit trade deal agreed upon by the U.K. and European Union on Christmas Eve, with London markets open for the first time since the deal was announced.


     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow gained 204.10 points, 0.68%, at 30.403.97. The Nasdaq moved up 94.69 points, 0.74%, at 12,899,42. The S&P 500 rose 32.30 points, 0.87%, at 3,735.36. All three major U.S. stock indexes set new closing highs after President Trump signed a Covid-19 aid bill, averting a government shutdown and ending uncertainty about the rollout of the spending package.


     For the year 2020, the S&P 500 is up 15.6% and the Dow has advanced 6.5%, while the Nasdaq has soared more than 43% despite the pandemic.


Market perspectives:


     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is lower in early U.S. trading. February Nymex crude oil futures prices higher and trading around $48.25 a barrel. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note futures is currently around 0.945%.


     • Traders boost bets against dollar to highest in almost a decade. Net short non-commercial positions in futures linked to the ICE U.S. Dollar Index have surged to the most since March 2011, according to the latest Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. The gauge of the U.S. currency has fallen over 6% this year.

     • Crude oil futures have built on gains seen earlier in overnight action, with U.S. crude atop $48.10 per barrel and Brent above $51.40 per barrel. Crude was up in Asian activity, with U.S. crude up 25 cents at $47.87 per barrel while Brent crude was up 23 cents at $51.13 per barrel.


     • Bird flu continues to spread in South Korea. South Korea has confirmed 31 cases of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu at local farms as well as 42 cases of bird flu in wild birds since late October. Despite the quick spread, the country’s ag ministry says the domestic market for poultry remains stable and the number of culled birds has only had a limited impact on supply. Since Tuesday, around 9.8 million birds have been culled.


Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include (Link to subscribe to FTT):

     • Talks today aimed at ending prolonged Argentine strike
     • Brazilian flour mills feeling the impact of Argentina’s strike
     • Cordonnier cuts Argentine crop estimates amid dry weather
     • Consultant stays the course on Brazilian crop projections




— CFAP 2 payments at $12.96 billion. Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) effort now are at $12.96 billion as of Dec. 27, with acreage-based payments at $6.16 billion, livestock payments at $3.39 billion, sales commodities at $2.19 billion, dairy at $1.17 billion, and eggs/broilers at $52.1 million.


     Iowa continues to lead all states at $1.15 billion, followed by California ($987.3 million), Nebraska ($838.5 million), Minnesota ($814.5 million), and Illinois ($789.0 million). 


— Graphic review of ag-related payments in latest Covid aid package:


     Covid ag aid payments


— If you are still expecting WHIP+ payments, they should come ‘soon’. Some farmers continue to note they are still waiting on remaining WHIP+ payments. There was a cessation of payments as USDA needed what’s called a reapportionment from the Office of Management and Budget, which it got. Payments have resumed or are at least in process of being made. But this alone would not have allowed USDA to pay the second half of 2019 payments. However, the “anomaly: included in the recent omnibus spending packaged signed into law took care of this and now the second half is likely to be paid as there should be sufficient funding.


     As for any WHIP+ payments on 2020 crops, this Congress punted that topic to the new Congress set to start Jan. 3.





China slashes Australian wheat imports. China is tightening its purchases of Australian wheat as it launches a fresh assault on Australian farm commodities.


— Chinese meat association recommends suppliers should disinfect cold-chain meat products. Chinese meat importers and processors are calling on countries with Covid-19 outbreaks to increase scrutiny of shipments before shipping out meat, noting its detection of the virus on cold chain products “many times.” Gao Guan, a spokesman for the China Meat Association, said, “It should be better to handle this (virus control) at the meats exporting origins, and carry out disinfection at the production plants” as the cost would be lower, and efficiency higher.” The group proposed exporters in Covid-impacted areas should disinfect the outer packaging of products and the inner side of containers before sealing export products. Doing so would ensure food safety and raise consumer confidence about cold-chain products, the meat association said. The World Health Organization continues to say the risk of catching Covid-19 from frozen food is low.


U.S./China Phase 1 tracker: China’s purchases of U.S. goods. Link





EU ambassadors approve Brexit trade deal. Ambassadors from the 27 members of the European Union approved the EU/U.K. free trade deal Dec. 28. EU governments are expected to formally ratify the agreement. This marks the beginning of the ratification process of the trade deal. The U.K. House of Commons is expected to vote on the agreement on Dec. 30, with the European Parliament to follow in January. The deal will enter into force provisionally on Jan. 1.


     Agriculture details of Brexit agreement:

     • Trade of farm goods will benefit from the zero-tariff, zero-quota terms between the two sides. But the lack of an equivalence agreement on phytosanitary rules means shippers will face new hurdles at the border.

     • No tariffs: The lack of levies is “especially important“ for the agriculture and fishing sector, as some meat and dairy products would have faced taxes topping 40% under WTO terms, according to the EU.

     • Extra checks: U.K. agri-food consignments will have to have health certificates and undergo sanitary and phytosanitary controls at member states’ border inspection posts.

     • Both sides will be able to maintain their own sanitary standards going forward.

     • Food and agricultural products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain will be subject to checks and phytosanitary controls.




— Trump administration to release 5-year dietary guidelines today. The latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will come via a half-hour webcast (link). The guidelines are a joint project of USDA and the Health and Human Services Department and are expected to influence American eating habits for the next five years.




 Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 81,362,561 with 1,776,572 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 19,310,597 with 334,967 deaths.

       Link to Covid Case Tracker
       Link to Our World in Data


— In Britain, 41,385 new covid-19 cases had been confirmed, a record daily number. A rapidly spreading variant of the disease has increased infection rates in the country.


— Novavax is starting a new Covid-19 vaccine trial with up to 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico to test whether its experimental shot safely protects people from the disease. Novavax’s shot, which will be the fifth Covid-19 vaccine to enter final-stage testing in the U.S., could receive authorization in 2021 if results are positive.


— Kamala Harris to receive Covid-19 vaccine. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, are scheduled to receive their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine today, transition officials said.




— President-elect Joe Biden accused the Trump administration of obstructing his incoming team. Biden said that the Department of Defense, for example, had acted “irresponsibly” by withholding “critical” information on national-security matters. The department responded that it has been co-operating with the transition.


— House votes 322 to 87 to override President Trump's veto of the annual defense bill. The $740.5 billion bill now heads to the Senate, putting it on track to be the first legislation to become law over President Trump’s objections.


     If supported by two-thirds of the Senate, it would be only the sixth veto override this century and the first since the chamber voted to overturn President Barack Obama’s block on legislation effectively allowing families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.


— The House approved increasing stimulus checks to $2,000, but that measure’s fate in the Senate is uncertain. The bill passed the House by a vote of 275 to 134. Forty-four House Republicans joined most Democrats on Monday night in backing legislation to dramatically increase the size of tax rebates in the latest coronavirus relief package. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement Monday evening that he will object to speeding up the Senate's legislative clock for considering the defense bill veto override if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn't allow "an up or down vote" on legislation boosting direct payments to $2,000. Senate consideration of $2,000 checks is unlikely to begin before Friday. The bill (HR 9051) to increase the size of rebate would cost $463.8 billion, according to a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate.


     The CASH Act would also boost the amount awarded for each dependent to $2,000 (e.g. a family of four would get an $8,000 second stimulus check instead of a $2,400 payment). It would also include an additional amount for older children, elderly parents that have moved in, or anyone else that one supports and can claim as a dependent on upcoming tax returns. Moreover, the legislation retroactively amends the law authorizing the first round of stimulus checks (under the CARES Act) so that all dependents would qualify for the extra $500 payments allowed for children age 16 and younger.



— On Thursday, Dec. 31, the executive order extending a “pause” on processing U.S. immigration visas is due to expire, although it could be extended again.


— India’s farmer protests. Around 1,500 telephone towers have had cables cut and generators stolen across Punjab in recent days, officials said, as the Indian state becomes the epicenter of farmer protests against agriculture reforms. Reliance, the company that operates the towers, is believed to be one of the firms deemed to benefit from the changes to farming regulations. Farm union leaders have denied any role in the vandalism of the towers. Talks between the government and farm unions are to resume on Wednesday.


— Court blocks Labor Department H-2A wage changes, freeze. Labor and farmworker groups won an injunction blocking the Department of Labor (DOL) from freezing H-2A guestworkers’ adverse effect wage rates (AEWRs) for 2021 and 2022 at 2020 levels and then adjust future AEWRs based on the generic employment cost index (ECI) rather than USDA’s Farm Labor Survey (FLS). U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd issued the injunction last week, saying the plaintiffs in the suit were likely to prevail on the merits of the underlying case. The United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation contend DOL’s rule runs afoul of multiple aspects of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), including notice and comment requirements. An earlier ruling by Judge Drozd issued an injunction prohibiting USDA from cancelling the FLS, which it had moved to do after DOL gave notice of its H-2A wage rulemaking.


     The latest ruling blocked the wage freeze aspect of the DOL rule saying it is likely to depress farmworker wages and cause them irreparable harm. DOL’s own estimates expected the rule to reduce wages paid to H-2A guestworkers by just shy of $200 million over the next two years had it been allowed to take effect.


     DOL is now required to publish 2021 AEWRs, which are expected sometime after USDA publishes updated FLS data on Feb. 11 — a delay from its typical release date of November 30 due of the logistics involved in resuming the report. The judge gave DOL and plaintiffs 14 days to submit proposed orders laying out deadlines for setting the 2021 AEWRs. In his ruling, the judge asked parties in the lawsuit to ensure any delay in issuing 2021 AEWRs does not negatively affect farmworker wages, including by adjusting previously earned wages retroactively once the new rates are set.



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