USDA Again Surprises Ag Sector with Lower-Than-Expected Acreage Estimates

Posted on 04/01/2021 7:18 AM

OPEC+ confab | Biden’s first Cabinet meeting | Hurdles for Biden ‘transportation’ plan

 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


 

Market Focus:
• Traders brace for holiday break, but jobs report on Friday
• USDA offers much lower corn plantings estimate than expected
• Farm share of U.S. food dollar increased in 2019 after 7 years of decline
• Janet Yellen signals more hedge fund oversight

• Higher commodity prices are starting to affect consumers
• S.F. Fed president doesn’t expect Biden transportation plan to stoke inflation
• Private sector adds 517,000 jobs in March   
• Pending home sales plunge in February
• Europe manufacturing strengthens but COVID warnings sounded.
• Gold market has lost its luster   
• Suez Canal: Ships moving through canal at rapid rate
• Shortage of railcars delaying handling of imports arriving at Calif. Ports
• Ag demand update

Ukraine’s corn stocks expected to jump amid a slowdown in export demand
• Attaché: Mexico to produce bigger cotton crop in 2021-22, but imports to rise
• Bunge deal to buy Brazilian soybean processors reportedly falls through
• Canada tightens restrictions on farm use of two neonicotinoids

Policy Focus:
• NEC’s Deese criticizes 2017 Trump tax cut, but promotes Biden tax hike proposals
• Additional DMC payments triggered for February 

 

Biden Administration Personnel

• President Biden convenes his Cabinet today

 

China Update:
• Report: French journalist who defended Chinese gov’t does not exist

 

Trade Policy:
• USTR trade barriers report hits restrictions by scores of countries

 

Energy & Climate Change:

• White House asks EPA to study if EVs could generate RINs: Reuters


Food & Beverage Industry Update:
• GAO: USDA needs to do better on nutrition program
• Hoeven introduces bill meant to boost meat packer transparency


Coronavirus Update:
• Johnson & Johnson tp delay future shipments of vaccine after mix-up
• French President Emmanuel Macron announces new four-week national lockdown
• Delta to resume selling middle seats
• Biden says Texas ballclub making mistake with full capacity plan

 

Politics & Elections:
• Democrat Rita Hart withdraws challenge to Iowa House race result
• NRSC’s Scott expects Grassley to seek re-election in Iowa


Other Items of Note:
• Bayer plans to launch an auction for its pest control unit
• Cargill to sell its 50% stake in Alvean, world’s largest sugar trader, to Brazilian partner
• A look at the Federal Register in the first 10 weeks of the Biden administration
• U.S. seeks Iran negotiations through allies

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly higher overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward firmer openings. U.S. and most European markets are closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday but on that day, there is the release of the important U.S. employment situation report from the Labor Department, which is expected to show March non-farm payrolls gaining 675,000 jobs following a rise of 379,000 in February. The unemployment rate is seen at 6.0%.

 

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow fell 85.41 points, 0.26%, at 32,981.55, falling into negative territory late in the session. The Nasdaq rose 201.48 points, 1.54%, at 13,246.87. The S&P 500 was up 14.34 points, 0.36%, at 3,972.89.

 

     Janet Yellen signals more hedge fund oversight. U.S. regulators will re-establish a group to study potential risks and vulnerabilities at hedge funds, the Treasury secretary said. Observers expect more scrutiny of swaps and family offices like Archegos, which fueled last week’s market turmoil.

 

On tap today:

 

     • OPEC+ meets. Oil ministers from OPEC+ member states meet today to decide on whether to boost production or maintain current output cuts. It’s expected that the cartel will be cautious and maintain current production levels as a global economic recovery remains threatened amid a new wave of Covid-19 infections and slow vaccine distribution.
     • U.S. jobless claims are expected to fall to 675,000 in the week ended March 27 from 684,000 a week earlier. Follow our coverage here. (8:30 a.m. ET)
     • USDA Weekly Export Sales report, 8:30 a.m. ET.
    • IHS Markit's U.S. manufacturing index for March is expected to tick up to 59.2 from a preliminary reading of 59. (9:45 a.m. ET)
     • Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for March is expected to rise to 61.7 from 60.8 a month earlier. (10 a.m. ET)
     • U.S. construction spending for February is expected to fall 1% from the prior month. (10 a.m. ET)
    • Federal Reserve speakers: Philadelphia’s Patrick Harker at a fintech symposium at 1 p.m. ET and Dallas's Robert Kaplan in a moderated discussion with historian Michael Beschloss at 6 p.m. ET.
     • Biden Cabinet meeting at White House (see related item below for more). 1:15 p.m. ET.

 

Grain industry analysts and private surveys again missed important USDA reports by a wide margin… if USDA proves to be correct in the long run, something that has not been evident over the past few years. USDA’s Prospective Plantings report showed lower than expected acreage for both corn and soybeans. Some note dry weather since late last year and extreme cold in February appear to have weighed on acreage intentions. But commodity prices and crop insurance guarantees argue for more plantings than USDA estimates, others say.

 

     USDA estimates corn plantings in the U.S. will increase marginally from 90.8 million acres in 2020 to 91.1 million in 2021. The market was expecting an acreage estimate of around 93.1 million acres, according to a Bloomberg survey. For soybeans, USDA estimated acreage to increase by around 5% year-over-year to 87.6 million acres in 2021, ompared to market expectations of 90.1 million acres.

 

     What few want to talk about, but still do: Some think U.S. farmers sandbagged acreage to USDA. If so, USDA’s June Acreage report could show higher plantings. Says one industry contact, “There's a narrative right now for farmers wanting to prove USDA wrong… it's growing and that’s not good in my opinion.” If so, farmers can't complain if they don't give USDA accurate information.

 

     Corn vs trade

     Soybeans plantings vs trade

     In another report, USDA estimated total corn stocks of 7.7 billion bushels as of March 1, a five-year low at this point in the season due to tight supplies and stronger demand. Soybean stocks were also reported to have dropped to 1.56 billion bushels versus 2.25 billion bushels at the same point last year. Lower stocks of corn and soybeans should not have been that much of a surprise, given the stronger demand seen for both crops from China, but pre-report forecasts showed a big range.

 

     Corn stocks vs trade

     Soybean stocks vs trade

 

Farm share of U.S. food dollar increased in 2019 after 7 years of decline. On average, U.S. farmers received 14.3 cents for farm commodity sales from each dollar spent on domestically produced food in 2019, up from a newly revised estimate of 14.2 cents in 2018. Known as the farm share, this amount increased slightly after seven consecutive years of decline. Average prices received by U.S. farmers (as measured by the Producer Price Index for farm products) have been relatively stable for the last three years, following sharp declines in 2015 and 2016. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar, including food purchased at grocery stores and at eating-out establishments. The marketing share covers the costs of getting domestically produced food from farms to points of purchase, including costs related to packaging, transporting, processing, and selling to consumers at grocery stores and eating-out places. The farm and marketing shares of the food dollar in 2019 reflect conditions before the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning in March 2020, the ERS monthly Food Expenditure Series reported sharp declines in the share of eating-out food dollars. Farmers receive a smaller share from eating-out dollars because of the added costs for preparing and serving meals at restaurants, cafeterias and other food-service establishments.

 

     Farmer share of food dollar

 

Higher commodity prices are starting to affect consumers, as companies raise prices for many staples (link to WSJ article). Kimberly-Clark said it plans to adjust selling prices across much of its North America consumer-products business to help counter rising raw-material costs. General Mills, Hormel Foods and J.M. Smucker are also raising product prices. Business surveys released today highlight growing strains on supply chains, even as rising export orders point to continued growth in cross-border trade this year. A banner year for e-commerce has also led to a boost in prices for corrugated cardboard boxes, adding to supply-chain woes.

 

     Commodity prices

 

S.F. Fed president doesn’t expect Biden transportation plan to stoke inflation. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly does not expect President Joe Biden's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package to alter the central bank's path on interest rate increases or change its outlook for inflation, she tells Axios in an exclusive interview. "I put it in there as a boost overall on growth, should those [bills] pass but I don’t put it in as a big pickup in inflation because I think of it as creating an additional supply effect — more workers coming into the labor force, better output, the roads and bridges and digital infrastructure improve," Daly says. “This is really good for our economy. It allows us to grow faster."

 

Private sector adds 517,000 jobs in March.  The ADP Research Institute reported Wednesday that private sector employers added 517,000 new workers in March, slightly fewer than the 525,000 forecast. ADP also revised its February figure up from 117,000 to 176,000. In a statement accompanying the release, ADP economist Nela Richardson said, “We saw marked improvement in March’s labor market data, reporting the strongest gain since September 2020. Job growth in the service sector significantly outpaced its recent monthly average, led with notable increase by the leisure and hospitality industry.”

 

Pending home sales plunge in February.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Wednesday that its index of pending home sales fell 10.6% from an upwardly revised 123.4 in January to 110.3 in February. Economists had expected the index to fall 3%. In a statement accompanying the release, NAR economist Lawrence Yun said, “The demand for a home purchase is widespread, multiple offers are prevalent, and days-on-market are swift, but contracts are not clicking due to record-low inventory, Only the upper-end market is experiencing more activity because of reasonable supply. Demand, interestingly, does not yet appear to be impacted by recent modest rises in mortgage rates.”

 

Caixin/Markit China PMI slowest in 11 months. The Caixin/Markit China PMI reading for March came in at 50.6, down from 50.9 in February, in the private reading on China’s manufacturing activity. While still the eleventh straight month in expansion territory, it marked the lowest reading in that time. The export orders subindex improved for the first time in three months, reflecting an upturn in demand around the globe. But total new orders were weaker than in February, indicating a potential slowing in domestic demand.

 

Europe manufacturing strengthens but COVID warnings sounded. The IHS Markit manufacturing PMI rose to 62.5 in March, up from 57.9 in February and above the “flash” estimate of 62.4. The reading marks the highest since the survey started in 1997. However, supply chain issues may lurk as input and output price readings moved up to near-record levels. The recent forecast from the European Central Bank (ECB) that the eurozone would expand at a 4% clip this year may be in jeopardy, according to remarks from ECB official Jens Weidmann. The said in remarks to journalists that the eurozone growth target might not be met if pandemic-linked curbs continue. "Due to the currently strong increase in the number of infections, it could take longer for the protective measures to be relaxed than assumed in the March forecast," Weidmann told journalists Wednesday in remarks that were released today (Thursday). "In this case, the forecast of the GDP growth rate for the euro area in 2021 might no longer be sustainable."

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is slightly weaker after hitting a 4.5-month high on Wednesday. An OPEC meeting that began today is in focus for the oil market. The cartel is expected to keep in place its present oil-production quotas, but potential surprises lurk. Meantime, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently fetching around 1.715% after hitting a 14-month high of around 1.75% on Tuesday.


     • Crude oil futures are little-changed ahead of the U.S. trading start with attention on the OPEC+ meeting. U.S. crude is trading around $59.15 per barrel and Brent around $62.75 per barrel. Futures were higher in Asian action, recovering some of the sharp declines from Wednesday. U.S. crude was up 37 cents at $59.53 per barrel while Brent was up 34 cents at $63.08 per barrel.

 

     • Gold market has lost its luster, dashing the hopes of people who predicted that lavish stimulus spending by central banks and governments would send bullion prices to new heights this year. Gold futures on Wednesday closed their worst quarter since 2016, falling 9.5% to $1,713.80 a troy ounce. Few assets have fared worse: namely, the price of orange-juice futures, cocoa, Turkey’s lira and long-term U.S. government bonds, the Wall Street Journal details (link).

 

        Gold

 

     • Suez Canal: Ships are moving through the canal at a rapid rate, the Wall Street Journal reports (link), but vessels that had been idling outside the canal are arriving almost as fast as the backlogged ships can be cleared. The ongoing backup highlights the fragile nature of the ocean-borne supply chains at choke points like the Suez. Some 292 ships were waiting on both sides of the canal two days after the blockage was cleared, a net reduction of just 33 ships from an earlier backup, and dozens more ships are on the way. Meanwhile, a severe shortage of railcars is delaying handling of imports arriving at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

 

     • Ag demand: Algeria’s state grain agency bought around 500,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat in a tender, with the purchase expected to be primarily sourced from the European Union. A group of South Korean flour mills bought 65,000 MT of milling wheat to be sourced from the United States. Saudi Arabia’s state wheat buyer issued an international tender to buy around 295,000 MT of wheat.

 

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

     • Ukraine’s corn stocks expected to jump amid a slowdown in export demand
     • Attaché: Mexico to produce bigger cotton crop in 2021-22, but imports to rise
     • Bunge deal to buy Brazilian soybean processors reportedly falls through
     • Canada tightens restrictions on farm use of two neonicotinoids

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

— NEC’s Deese criticizes 2017 Trump tax cut as he promotes Biden tax hike proposals.  National Economic Council (NEC) Director Brian Deese, in an appearance on Bloomberg TV’s Bloomberg Surveillance, said, “The American Jobs Plan is a historic capital investment in America. And our metric of success will be: can we make a generational investment...and do so in a way that actually creates millions of jobs in the process?” Deese added, “We also think it is reasonable thing to look at how to cover the cost of that capital investment over the long term. That is where the President’s proposal comes in – corporate tax reform. Let’s end the race to the bottom internationally. Let’s have a competitive tax system that encourages domestic investment and do so in a way that over 15 years would raise sufficient revenue to cover this plan.” Deese went on to say, “You look at the 2017 tax cut that passed without a single Democratic vote. It was bad tax policy. ... And it is deeply unpopular. ... The corporate tax reforms we are talking about here would still leave the corporate rate lower than any year since World War II, other than the last couple of years in the wake of the Trump tax cut.”

 

     In an interview for CNBC’s Squawk Box, Deese was asked about comments from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) suggesting he is unlikely to support Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%. Deese said, “We’re open to conversations if people have other ideas about how to pay for it, how to structure this.” Deese added, “Our corporate tax system is not working right now, and the 2017 law didn’t address the core issue, which is that there’s still too many incentives for companies to shift profits, to shift production to overseas jurisdictions. And we’re seeing a race to the bottom that we think we need to stop. So, if you look at the president’s plan...we’re talking about bringing corporate revenue as a share of GDP back to its historical average between 2000 and 2017. We think that’s a reasonable step and doing so would allow us to make an unprecedented amount of investment in American infrastructure that will grow the economy.”

 

     When asked about the capital gains tax increase omission during a press backgrounder, a senior administration official said: "Capital gains is not addressed here. The reason for that is that the focus of this plan is on corporate tax reform and reforming the corporate tax system. And we think that that is important as a matter of fairness and also important as a matter of encouraging domestic investment."

 

     Background: Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase is more than $1.5 trillion over 10 years, with another $1.5 trillion coming soon on individual income and investment. That’s about $300 billion a year, or 1.36% of GDP each year, assuming U.S. GDP of $22 trillion. Biden wants to raise the corporate rate back up to 28%, from 21% now. Biden also wants to add penalties that would make inversions punitive, and he’d impose a global minimum corporate tax of 21%.

 

     Tax increases

 

     Now what? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly told Democrats that she hopes the package will pass the House by the Fourth of July, an optimistic timeline to many observers. Most see the spend-and-tax proposals going the route of budget reconciliation, which would need 51 votes. The Wall Street Journal said, “The tax increases are so extreme that they seem intended to give Democrats like Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) room to demand changes and then claim victory before voting for increases that would still be enormous.”

 

     IPB

 

— Additional DMC payments triggered for February. With monthly USDA prices for milk and feed components (corn, blended alfalfa hay, and soymeal) resulting in a National average margin in February of $6.22 per cwt., dairy operations with Tier 1 coverage levels under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) will see payments triggered for levels at $9.50, $9, $8.50, $8, $7.50, $7 and $6.50, with payments under Tier 2 coverage levels triggered for $8, $7.50, $7, and $6.50. For Tier 1, payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. at $6.50 coverage to $3.28 per cwt. for $9.50 coverage. The Tier 2 payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. for $6.50 coverage and $1.78 per cwt. for $8.
 

 


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL


 

— President Biden convenes his Cabinet today to meet in person for the first time at the White House. Biden will be keeping the focus on his infrastructure plan, his top legislative priority, during the meeting, according to a White House official. Unlike traditional Cabinet meetings, the meeting will take place in the East Room, rather than the Cabinet Room, due to social distancing constraints amid the ongoing pandemic. There are 25 expected attendees, including the confirmed Cabinet, Vice President Kamala Harris and chief of staff Ron Klain — both of whom are Cabinet members.
 


CHINA UPDATE


 

— Whoops… A French journalist who has recently defended the Chinese government’s policy toward the Uyghurs of Xinjiang and its approach to Taiwan does not exist, the French newspaper Le Monde reports. Laurène Beaumond claims to be a French expat who previously lived in Xinjiang in recent op-eds published on the Chinese international broadcaster CGTN’s French language site. In one post, dated March 28, Beaumond slammed a recent campaign by Western firms to boycott cotton from Xinjiang. Le Monde asserts the author is a fake, based on her name not appearing in any records kept by a French government commission that distributes identity cards to journalists, despite her claim to have worked in French newsrooms in the past. If the author cannot be verified, questions will be focused on CGTN. The broadcaster only gained approval to operate in France in early March after being banned in the United Kingdom.

 


TRADE POLICY


 

— USTR trade barriers report hits restrictions by scores of countries. The National Trade Estimates Report on Foreign Trade Barriers issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) covers 61 countries, the European Union, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Arab League, with a note that just because countries are not included in the report (link), it does not mean they not of concern to the U.S. Not surprisingly, China occupies 35 pages in the 574-page report, with several notations on the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China. “The Phase 1 Agreement also includes a commitment by China to make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in calendar years 2020 and 2021,” the report noted. “Importantly, the Phase 1 Agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement. Since the entry into force of the Phase 1 Agreement in February 2020, the United States continues to engage China as issues arise and will continue to monitor developments closely.”

 

     The report noted several areas relative to agriculture where progress has been made, but still concluded China remains a difficult and unpredictable market for U.S. agricultural exporters, largely because of inconsistent enforcement of regulations and selective intervention in the market by China’s regulatory authorities. The failure of China’s regulators to routinely follow science-based, international standards, and guidelines further complicates and impedes agricultural trade.” The report also focuses on China’s overcapacity in several areas, their intellectual property rights actions, technology transfers and more.

 

     As for the EU, the report points out the long-running dispute over growth hormones in beef production and the EU’s restrictions on biotech crops. On biotech crops, the report discussed several issues on that front. “The United States continues to work with the EU to support trade in corn byproducts and rice, but success will depend on the EU addressing the larger issue of delays in the biotechnology approval process. The United States continues to urge the EU to participate in discussions of a practical approach to low-level presence under the auspices of the Global Low-Level Presence Initiative.”

 

     The annual report covers a lot of territory and does not cover all countries and trade issues. Still, it provides some areas and issues of focus for the Biden administration on the trade front ahead.

 


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


 

— White House asks EPA to study if EVs could generate RINs: Reuters. The White House has requested EPA explore whether the use of renewable fuels to power electric vehicle (EV) charging should generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), Reuters reported (link), citing two sources familiar with the discussions. The report said the RINs would be generated from charging vehicles with electricity produced using a renewable source such as methane that could captured from dairy operations or landfills.

 

     But the situation could also cause battles to erupt over who would “gets custody” of the RINs, the item noted, quoting one source as saying that the EV maker Tesla has been lobbying the administration to make sure they can generate and sell the credits if the effort is approved. There would also be questions on how to trace the biogas from its origin to the charging station.

 

     Expectations are that any such RINs generated would be categorized as DC “advanced” biofuel credits, an area where EPA has struggled to expand in recent years.

 

     Outlook: It is not clear whether this option will be adopted and presumably, it would take a rulemaking process for it to become reality. If so, that would add another dynamic to the already contentious RIN situation.

 


FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY


 

— GAO: USDA needs to do better on nutrition program data. When USDA released data on nutrition program participation last year, it did not put the data in context or explain potential problems with the data’s quality, the Government Accountability Office found in a report (link) to members of Congress published Wednesday. GAO now recommends USDA provide that missing context to help the public understand the data, and that the department disclose potential sources of error.

 

— Hoeven introduces bill meant to boost meat packer transparency. Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Appropriations Committee John Hoeven (R-N.D.) recently introduced legislation meant to increase transparency and competition among meat packers by requiring a minimum of 50% of meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter to be purchased on the open or spot market. The bill is also sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). The measure is unlikely to make it to the finish line given the North/South divide regarding support. On a recent episode of AgriTalk, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) spoke to the differences between markets in Kansas and Texas vs. those in the Midwest and Northern Plains. There was also a discussion about whether the legislation would truly accomplish its goals of improving transparency and competition.

 


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE


 

 Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 128,944,358 with 2,816,938 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 30,460,344 with 552,072 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 150,273,292 doses administered, 51,322,610 have been fully vaccinated, or 15.7% of the U.S. population.

 

— Johnson & Johnson said it would delay future shipments of its vaccine after a mix-up at a manufacturing plant. A top EU official said the bloc would allow “zero” shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Britain until the drugmaker fulfilled its commitments to Brussels.

 

— French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new four-week national lockdown, shutting down schools and businesses as the country seeks to contain a third wave of Covid-19 cases. Travel in between regions will be restricted, further impacting companies that hoped to benefit from school holidays in coming weeks. Macron said he aims to reopen the economy in stages starting in mid-May.

 

— Delta to resume selling middle seats. Delta Air Lines will resume selling middle seats on May 1, ending the social-distancing policy after more than a year as a rising pace of Covid-19 vaccinations spurs a U.S. travel rebound. In another sign of normalization, expanded offerings of onboard snacks, cocktails and other beverages will restart next month, Delta said in a statement yesterday. The company is also extending the validity of tickets purchased in 2020 and 2021 through the end of next year and adding more time for travelers to use some benefits earned through the Delta credit card.

 

— Biden says Texas ballclub making mistake with full capacity plan. President Biden called it “a mistake” for the Texas Rangers baseball team to allow full attendance at games as the season kicks off while the country continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. “They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the experts,” Biden said during an ESPN interview broadcast last night, referring to Anthony Fauci, his health adviser and top infectious disease expert. “It is not responsible,” the president added about the move by the team to reopen games to full capacity as many Americans are still waiting to be vaccinated.

 

 

POLITICS & ELECTIONS

 

 

— Iowa House race settled with Democrat dropping challenge. Democrat Rita Hart dropped her challenge to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Iowa’s 2nd District, who won the race by six votes. “After many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest, I have made the decision to withdraw my contest before the House Committee on Administration,” Hart said in a statement. A formal complaint from Hart has been under consideration at the House Administration Committee. House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said her panel will recommend that the issue be disposed of in light of Hart’s withdrawal. The National Republican Congressional Committee still planned to highlight the Iowa contest in campaigns going forward. “We won’t let voters forget that Democrats will do whatever they can to subvert democracy if given the opportunity,” NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement. Iowa’s 2nd district underwent a regular count and intensive recount that confirmed the outcome, which was endorsed by both Democrats on the state elections board.

 

— NRSC’s Scott expects Grassley to seek re-election in Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports (link) National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he expects Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to seek an eighth term next year. Scott told the Register, “I’m very optimistic that Sen. Grassley’s going to run. Actually, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.”
 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


 

— Bayer plans to launch an auction for its pest control unit, which could fetch more than $2.4 billion, according to Reuters. Link for details.

 

— Cargill agreed to sell its 50% stake in Alvean, the world’s largest sugar trader, to Brazilian partner Copersucar. Link to Bloomberg for details.

 

— A look at the Federal Register in the first 10 weeks of the Biden administration. According to Ballotpedia, from March 22 through March 26 — the tenth week of the Biden administration — the Federal Register grew by 1,214 pages for a year-to-date total of 16,282 pages. During the same period of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 988 pages for a year-to-date total of 16,100 pages. The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity. The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

     Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in previous years.
     Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to the present.

— U.S. seeks Iran negotiations through allies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is discussing options with European allies to revive the Iran nuclear accord “through a series of initial and mutual steps,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said yesterday. Blinken has explored the possibilities with the U.S. allies during meetings in Brussels last week, Price said, adding that the U.S. is still committed to a joint return to the multinational nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned.


 

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