China Relaxes Restrictions on Flights Into Country After U.S. Announces Actions

Posted on 06/04/2020 7:20 AM

Confusing reports continue re: China buys or pause in buys of U.S. farm products

 

 


In Today’s Updates


 

* DOT suspends passenger flights by Chinese carriers to and from U.S
* Beijing relaxing restrictions to allow more foreign carriers to fly to mainland
* European Central Bank ramps up its pandemic bond buying to 1.35 trillion euros
* Germany agreed to stimulus package worth €130 billion ($146 billion)
* U.S. Fed will expand its Municipal Liquidity Facility
* V-shaped recovery in housing and autos?
* Senate voted unanimously to loosen rules for the Paycheck Protection Program
* Global oil prices declined on negative prospects for an OPEC+ meeting this week
* Details of House Dems' surface transportation measure

* Vertical rice prices
* World food prices down for fourth straight month
* Trump considering listening tour of black communities and using a task force
* Conflicting reports continue on state of U.S. soybean, ag product sales to China
* White House/GOP aid package priorities
* U.S. food supply update
* Chicken industry executives indicted on price-fixing charges
* FDA updates Q&As re Covid-19 and food safety
* Tyson Foods plans to reinstate its previous policies on employee absences
* Update on reopening America... and around the world
* Report: Close to six million jobs are at risk of being lost in coming months
* NBA plans to restart the season without fans in attendance
* Some big resorts on the Strip are poised to reopen in Las Vegas *
* Coronavirus update*

* Iowa senators concerned about agency's guidance on hand sanitizer products
* Sugar Assn. petitioning FDA to require greater disclosure of alternative sweeteners
* Democrats want no U.S. trade deal with Brazil
* U.S., Mexico and Canada finish regs to implement USMCA’s new auto rules
* Court blocks sale of dicamba in U.S. from Bayer, others
* House to consider policing overhaul legislation
* House appropriators to start fiscal 2021 markups week of July 6
* Hemp industry asks Congress to help on FDA guidance
* Trump gives reason for wanting Russia invited to G7 confab

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: Global stocks were mixed. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index saw a slight 0.2% gain, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.1%. Indexes in Japan and South Korea finished the trading day up. U.S. equity futures signal lower openings.

 

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow rose 527.24 points, 2.05%, at 26,269.89. The Nasdaq moved up 74.54 points, 0.78%, at 9,682.91, just 1.4% below its all-time high. The S&P 500 was up 42.05 points, 1.36%, at 3,122.87, trimming its YTD loss to just 3.3%.

 

Global oil prices declined on negative prospects for an OPEC+ meeting this week. West Texas Intermediate, the main U.S. crude gauge, fell 1.6% to $36.66 a barrel. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, retreated 01.2%.

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • The number of weekly initial jobless claims is expected to drop below 2 million for the first time since mid-March when the data is published at 8:30 a.m. ET this morning.
     • Gold on Wednesday fell by nearly 2%, hitting its lowest since mid-May.
     • Euro-yen is testing downtrend resistance.
     • Japan's yield curve has been steepening, especially at the long end.
     • Rice futures have gone vertical. Why? A Bloomberg account says “... low plantings in states such as Arkansas have boosted risks that supplies will stay tight after a short crop a year ago. At the same time, consumer demand has been heating up as more Americans cook at home during the pandemic.”

     Rice prices

     • U.S. crude oil output is down almost 14% from a year ago. U.S. crude oil inventories remain elevated. Gasoline inventories, measured in days of supply, continue to trend lower. Gasoline demand is recovering but remains well below normal levels.
     • An oil CEO says crude prices could surge 90% to $70 by fall because U.S. firms have 'over-cut production'. Dan Eberhart, CEO of Canary, said the U.S. has over cut production so "there is going to be a mini supply shock for the U.S. oil market."
     • China's share of Middle Eastern oil sales keeps growing.
     • The Bank of Mexico still has room to cut rates and it It may be forced to do so as the pandemic worsens in the country.

     Mexico and Covid

 

The Fed will expand its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF), allowing every U.S. state to have at least two cities or counties eligible to directly issue notes to the MLF no matter the population and allows issuers like public transit, airports, toll facilities, and utilities to directly use the facility.

 

V-shaped recovery in housing and autos? Record-low mortgage rates and households trading multi-family housing in urban areas for single-family homes in the suburbs have been driving the housing demand. Source of chart: Macrobond, ING

 

     V shaped

 

European Central Bank ramps up its pandemic bond buying to 1.35 trillion euros. The European Central Bank (ECB) announced today that it will increase its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) by 600 billion euros ($672 billion), as it attempts to bolster the region’s economy following the coronavirus crisis. The amount comes on top of 750 billion euros of government bond purchases that the ECB announced in March, taking to total to 1.35 trillion euros. The central bank also said the duration of its crisis bond-buying program would be expended from the end of 2020 until June 2021.

 

Angela Merkel’s government agreed to a stimulus package worth €130 billion ($146 billion) to help Germany’s economy through the pandemic. It exceeded the top end of expectations by 30%. The government will reduce VAT for the rest of the year, give families €300 per child and double the rebate on purchases of electric cars. The announcement followed 21 hours of negotiations between the governing coalition partners. The package shows a focus on digital infrastructure and green energy, without providing direct support to the country's car industry.

 

     German Aid

     EU growth

 

World food prices down for fourth straight month. Covid-19 impacts are continuing to push global food prices lower, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reporting its food price index fell to 162.5 in May, down 1.9% from April, and at the lowest monthly reading since December 2018. Dairy prices fell 7.3%, cereal prices were down 1% and vegetable oil prices were down 2.8%.

 

Are you one of the people who type two spaces after a period? Two-spacers say the extra room after a sentence is easier on the eyes, but the one-spacers keep gaining ground, according to a Wall Street Journal article on the topic (link). Most are one-spacers, thinking those who prefer two spaces are, well, just spaced out.

 

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

President Trump is considering a listening tour of black communities and using a task force to address problems that sparked days of rioting, according to Ben Carson, the only black member of his Cabinet. “I think we really need to try to understand the anger, the rancor,” he told the Washington Examiner. “I probably understand it better than most people do.”

 

Democrats' $494 billion transport bill focuses on economy, climate. A five-year, $494 billion surface transportation bill unveiled Wednesday by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Democrats aims to inject money to states and cities struggling from the coronavirus before addressing another favorite Democratic topic: climate change. The committee has scheduled a June 17 markup of the bill. Link for details.

     In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing Thursday on infrastructure as an economic stimulus.

 

     A summary (link) and fact sheet (link) released by the House panel shows the bill would require the Department of Transportation to create greenhouse gas reduction measures and set goals for states to meet. The legislation would provide $8.35 billion to help states achieve their goals. Low-performing states would be required to invest 10% of their federal surface transportation funds in additional projects to cut emissions. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), supplying nearly a third of emissions. Nearly 60% of that comes from cars and light duty trucks.

 

     The bill also would authorize $6.25 billion to pay for resilient infrastructure that could withstand major weather events caused by climate change. It would require states and cities to develop an infrastructure vulnerability assessment to guide investments under the program.

 

     It would provide $350 million per year in grants to create electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling stations.

 

     It also calls for investments in rail, authorizing $60 billion to address a maintenance backlog in rail infrastructure, establishing new intercity passenger rail routes and expanding commuter rail. That would include $29.3 billion over five years for Amtrak — more than three times the current level.

 

     The bill would initially address the current pandemic, providing $83.1 billion in fiscal year 2021 to help save state and local transportation agencies crippled by the pandemic. It would briefly eliminate the state-federal match, ensuring that all federal dollars offered in 2021 would be offered at 100% federal share. The bill would allow state and local governments to use $22 billion of that money for salaries and operating expenses.

 

     The American Alliance for Manufacturing said it supports the stronger “Buy America” requirements contained in the new surface transportation bill, while the American Association of Port Authorities called it a welcome step toward keeping U.S. exports competitive by modernizing freight and port-related infrastructure.

 

     Differing opinions. While Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the legislation, dubbed the INVEST in America Act, “will catapult our country into a new era of how we plan, build, and improve U.S. infrastructure.” a “transformational bill that will catapult our country into a new era of how we plan, build, and improve U.S. infrastructure,” Republicans did not agree. In a joint statement, ranking Republican Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Subcommittee on Highways and Transit ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials ranking member Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) said they and other Republicans on the committee were not involved in the development of the bill. They criticized the bill as lacking flexibility for states and giving “outsized” funding to urban areas at the expense of rural communities. “We were not given the opportunity to address any of our priorities in this legislation. For example, today’s partisan bill lacks critical flexibility for the states, its outsized funding increases for urban areas will leave rural America even further behind, and numerous new green mandates and extreme progressive goals are woven throughout the fabric of new and existing core programs,” Graves said in a release.

 

     The bill would offer surface transportation programs $494 billion over five years, including $411 billion over five years out of the Highway Trust Fund for highway, transit, safety and research programs, representing a 46% increase over current investment levels, according to documents released by the committee. Of that $494 billion, $319 billion would go to highways, $105 billion to transit, $4.6 billion for highway safety, $5.3 billion for motor carrier safety and $60 billion for rail.

 

     The bill also emphasizes fixing before building, requiring National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds to focus on maintenance and operational improvements to existing facilities before building new highway capacity. It would require states to spend 20% of their NHPP and Surface Transportation Program dollars on bridge repair and rehabilitation projects — about $28 billion in fiscal years 2022 through 2025. It would provide grants to address rural roads and urban gridlock. Pedestrian and bicycle networks would get $250 million as would construction and improvement of truck parking facilities.

 

     Perspective: Despite bipartisan support for a major infrastructure and transportation measure, efforts have repeatedly failed, largely due to differences over paying for a bill, a key sticking point that neither chamber has been able to address. DeFazio and groups such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have advocated an increase in the federal gas tax, while others, such as Graves, have pushed for a shift to an alternative that would charge drivers based on vehicle miles traveled. DeFazio has said he supports vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, but does not believe it’s ready for national deployment, but he would establish a national VMT pilot program in the bill.
 

Update on China:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to admit nearly 3 million people into Britain from Hong Kong if China were to impose a new security law there. The promise would open the door to a significant influx of people potentially fleeing Hong Kong, a former British colony, and sharply raise the stakes in a developing standoff with China. The U.K. proposal would make about 2.5 million Hong Kong residents eligible to apply for British National Overseas passports, and then extend the rights given under the visa for a renewable period of 12 months. Further immigration rights, including the right to work, could be offered.
     
  • The Trump administration plans to block Chinese airlines effective June 16, after China prevented U.S. airlines from resuming service between the countries. The dispute stems from a March 26 decision by China’s aviation regulators that effectively banned U.S. airlines from flying between the two countries. Chinese airlines, by contrast, have been flying to American cities.

    Background. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday (link) that the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) hasn’t approved requests by U.S. airlines to resume flights. It accused China of violating an agreement between the two countries. Chinese carriers continued to fly passengers between the U.S. and China even after U.S. carriers had stopped flying in February and March. Currently four Chinese airlines operate scheduled passenger flights between the two countries, the Department of Transportation said. “Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights,” the rule says. “Should the CAAC adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order.” DOT said.

    The ban will impact operations of seven carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines. While it is scheduled to go into effect June 16, it may take effect sooner if President Donald Trump chooses.

    China's position. According to the U.S. DOT, China's aviation regulator wrote to the U.S. in May defending the continuation of its March order. The Chinese letter said their measures were fair as they “equally apply to all domestic and foreign carriers, being fair, equal and transparent.”

     
  • China says foreign airlines can apply to restart flights. Some 95 airlines that previously suspended service to China can now apply to restart those flights, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). A report in caacnews, the official CAAC newspaper, said that the number of international flights would rise by 50 from June 8, reaching 150 per week. The report said an average of 4,700 passengers per day were expected to arrive in China under the increase in flights compared with around 3,000 now. The number of flights could increase to two per week if no passengers on incoming flights test positive for Covid-19 for three weeks. The announcement from China comes after the U.S. said it would bar flights from China starting June 16, saying China had not allowed U.S. airlines to resume flights to China (see details above).
     
  • Hong Kong made it a crime to mock China’s national anthem, as activists planned to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown despite a ban. Activists said they would gather today for an annual vigil to remember the victims of the Chinese military’s crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 despite a first-ever police ban of the event.
     
  • HSBC and Standard Chartered, two British banks with major Asian interests, threw their weight behind the national-security law that China wants to impose on Hong Kong. HSBC, which has a huge Hong Kong presence, had until now avoided taking sides in the battle between the territory’s pro-democracy and pro-Beijing factions. HSBC said on social media that it "respects and supports all laws that stabilize Hong Kong's social order," while Standard Chartered later announced it believed the law can "help maintain the long term economic and social stability of Hong Kong."
     
  • Conflicting reports continue on state of U.S. soybean, ag product sales to China. News reports continue to provide conflicting signals on the state of US ag exports to China of soybeans and other ag products. The Wall Street Journal Wednesday reported (link) Chinese state-controlled companies have canceled transports for some shipments from American exporters as new tensions flare between Washington and Beijing. Maritime executives told the Wall Street Journal that at least 23 cargoes of soybeans were withdrawn and that a handful of shipments of other agriculture commodities were “pushed back.” However, the article noted a similar Bloomberg report that Chinese importers late last week had been seeking 20-30 cargoes of US soybeans, but opted to hold off. Meanwhile, the China-run Global Times said that sales of U.S. soybeans to China announced this week are proof that there has been no halt in the purchases as has been reported. They quoted Zhang Xiaoping, country director for China at the U.S. Soybean Export Council, as saying Chinese firms are still buying U.S. soybeans in line with market rules, unaffected by diplomatic tensions between the two sides.

    US China trade

Update on next aid package — Phase 4/CARES 2:

  • The coming White House/GOP aid package priorities will include:

    • Liability protection
    • Payroll tax cut
    • Reducing federal unemployment benefit
    • Tax deduction/credit for vacations

     
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said provisions that fail to directly address the economy and joblessness should be left out of relief packages, citing examples including a provision House Democrats proposed requiring greenhouse gas emission reductions for airlines receiving bailouts.

Update on implementation of CARES 1, including CFAP:

  • Aid accounting. Of the total $1.6 trillion in aid approved by Congress for Covid relief, roughly $1.11 trillion, or about 70%, has been distributed so far.
     
  • The Senate cleared legislation to ease restrictions on small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, sending the House-passed bill to Trump’s desk for his signature. About $130 billion remains from the second round of $320 billion that Congress approved for PPP. The initial round of $349 billion was tapped in just 13 days. The bill would not add funds to the program, which has issued $510.3 billion in loans so far out of the $660 billion available.

    The bill would extend an eight-week period — when proceeds must be spent for loans to be forgiven — to 24 weeks or until the end of the year, whichever comes first. According to a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, 23% of borrowing businesses will hit the eight-week deadline next week. Businesses would also have as long as five years, instead of two, to repay any money owed on a loan (if they don’t qualify to have the loan forgiven), and they could use a greater percentage of proceeds on rent and other approved non-payroll expenses. Besides extending the loan-forgiveness period, small businesses have said they want flexibility to spend more on overhead expenses, especially in high-rent areas. The bill would instead require that 60% of a loan be used on payroll.

    PPP accounting

U.S. food supply/industry update:

  • Chicken industry executives indicted on price-fixing charges. The CEO of one of the U.S.' biggest chicken producers and three other industry executives were indicted Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to fix prices on chickens sold to restaurants and grocery stores, the Justice Department’s first charges in a continuing criminal antitrust probe. Link to Justice Department announcement. The charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine, which may be increased based on gain derived or loss suffered by victims. No individual convicted of price-fixing in the U.S. has ever received a sentence of more than six years. DOJ and USDA are also investigating major beef processors for potential price-fixing, because of disparity between the prices of live cattle and retail beef. The charges also referenced other unnamed executives and chicken suppliers and suggested the sharing of pricing information extended beyond the alleged discussions between Pilgrim’s and Claxton. Some of the country’s biggest grocery chains, including Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, sued chicken companies last year, alleging anticompetitive practices.

    Details. The one-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Colorado, alleges current and former senior executives at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Claxton Poultry Farms fixed prices and rigged bids from 2012 to 2017. The indictment says the four men “participated in a continuing network of suppliers and co-conspirators, an understood purpose of which was to suppress and eliminate competition.” That network was used to reach agreements on similar prices for birds and to discuss “nonpublic information such as bids, prices, and price-related terms, including discount levels, for broiler chicken products sold in the United States” with the intention to “rig bids and to fix, maintain, stabilize, and raise prices and other price-related terms, including discount levels, for broiler chicken products sold in the United States.”

    Colorado-based Pilgrim’s is the nation’s second largest producer. Company Chief Executive Jayson Penn was charged, as was a former Pilgrim’s vice president, Roger Austin. The president of Georgia-based Claxton, Mikell Fries, and a vice president, Scott Brady, were both indicted.

    Colorado-based Pilgrim’s represents about 17% of the U.S. market, according to Watt, and the company estimates it produces about 13 billion pounds of chicken annually. Claxton, based in Georgia, estimates that it produces about 300 million pounds of chicken a year.

    USDA responds. “Ensuring the integrity of competition in agricultural markets in order for producers to receive competitive prices for their products, and to prevent consumers from being cheated, is of the utmost importance to USDA OIG, and we will continue to dedicate resources to the investigation of matters involving such potential of competitive harms,” Bethanne Dinkins, special agent in charge of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), said in a statement.

    Chicken prices

    Now what? The Wall Street Journal notes that, “In most price-fixing investigations, once the government brings its first case, others usually follow, and Wednesday’s indictment suggested there was more to the story.”

     
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate complaints and set standards related to Covid-19, saying that Congress should not exempt companies from liability if customers or workers become sick when they reopen, an issue that corporate and consumer groups have sparred over.
     
  • FDA updated its questions-and-answers section re: Covid-19 and food safety. Link.
     
  • Tyson Foods plans to reinstate its previous policies on employee absences, including punishment for those who miss work because of illnesses. But the company won’t penalize workers showing symptoms of Covid-19.

Update on reopening America... and around the world:

  • Close to six million jobs are at risk of being lost in coming months as a second wave of coronavirus-induced layoffs is headed for the U.S., according to a new report from Bloomberg Economics (link). “It will get worse before it gets better — white-collar workers will now bear the brunt,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, senior U.S. economist at Bloomberg Economics. “Even if states and businesses reopen, we’re likely to see this second wave of losses,” since the labor market tends to lag economic activity, she said.
     
  • The NBA plans to restart the season without fans in attendance. League owners will vote on a proposal today to resume games on July 31 in Orlando, Fla., with 22 teams playing eight games each to finish the regular season, followed by a 16-squad postseason that could last through October, according to reports.
     
  • Some of the biggest resorts on the Strip are poised to reopen, but questions linger about how willing visitors will be to return.
     
  • Jumbled supply chains and new safety protocols are hobbling U.S. manufacturers as they look to emerge from coronavirus shutdowns. Some factories are looking for alternative suppliers to compensate for plants that remain closed or are overwhelmed by orders for items in high demand. Other companies say new protective equipment and procedures to add space between workers will weigh on their profits and productivity. Link to WSJ article.

    Durable

Coronavirus update:

  • Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 total 6,524,369 with deaths at 386,389, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). U.S. cases now total 1,851,520 with 107,175 deaths.
     
  • Warp Speed initiative. Aimed at following through on a pledge to have a Covid-19 vaccine available in the next 2-3 quarters under Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration has selected five "finalists" for development. Companies include Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer, but not GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi. About 30,000 people will take part in Phase 3 trials, meaning that a total of 150,000 people could be vaccinated.
     
  • A leading Chinese gene sequencing and biomedical firm that said it would build a gene bank in Xinjiang and is supplying coronavirus tests around the world. The U.S. government has placed export bans on several Chinese companies deemed complicit in human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including surveillance tech manufacturers.
     
  • While WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus was complementing China in public, WHO officials were privately fretting about Beijing’s secrecy — and its deadly consequences relative to Covid-19 information. That news comes from recordings of internal WHO meetings obtained by the Associated Press (link) that show China failed to report information quickly and comprehensively. At best Beijing provided the minimum required of WHO members.
     
  • Antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine didn’t protect against Covid-19 any better than a placebo in people who had been exposed to the virus, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

 


  • Iowa senators to FDA: Concerned about agency's guidance on hand sanitizer products. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa told FDA they are concerned about the agency’s pandemic-related guidance on the manufacturing of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products. “I’m concerned this guidance may be too restrictive, leaving ethyl alcohol produced by Iowa’s ethanol industry on the sidelines when the need for hand sanitizer remains high,” Ernst said in a joint statement with Grassley. “Setting such a high standard for acetaldehyde is concerning,” Grassley said. “Acetaldehyde occurs naturally in the distillation process and at this current standard many common alcoholic beverages would be deemed out of compliance,” Grassley noted. Link to letter.
     
  • The Sugar Association is petitioning the FDA to require greater disclosure of alternative sweeteners as food makers increasingly try to cut down on “added sugars” in favor of low-calorie substitutes like stevia. The petition (link) calls for requiring that those ingredients be followed by the word “sweetener” in parentheses on food labels, and that products marketed toward children list the name and amount of such sweeteners on the front of the package. Products marketed as “reduced sugar” or “no sugar” should include another line below the claim indicating which sweetener was used as an alternative, the group said, as well as a disclaimer that the products are “not lower in calories” unless they are at least 25% less caloric than comparison foods. “Consumers want access to information,” said Courtney Gaine, the group’s president and CEO. “They want to know what’s in their food and where it comes from.” The petition says consumers are largely unaware of low- or no-calorie sweeteners in their food. Only 37% in a recent survey could correctly identify sweetening ingredients. The FDA has 180 days to respond to the petition.
     
  • Democrats want no U.S. trade deal with Brazil. Two dozen Democrats on the House Ways & Means panel told the Trump administration not to advance any trade agreement with Brazil because of President Jair Bolsonaro’s poor record on civil rights, labor and environmental protections. In a letter (link) to U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, the panel members led by Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said it would be “inappropriate” to deepen America’s economic partnership with “a Brazilian leader who disregards the rule of law and is actively dismantling hard-fought progress” on those issues.
     
  • The U.S., Mexico and Canada have finished regulations to implement the USMCA’s new auto rules, just 28 days before the deal is set to take effect July 1.
     
  • Court blocks sale of dicamba in U.S. from Bayer, others. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling that effectively blocks Bayer and BASF from selling the herbicide dicamba in the U.S., ruling that EPA “failed entirely” to acknowledge risks from the herbicide and that the agency violated federal regulations in October 2018 when it issued a two-year approval for the herbicide. “We strongly disagree with the ruling and are assessing our options,” Bayer spokesman Chris Loder told Bloomberg via email. “If the ruling stands, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season.” The ruling also applies to dicamba-based herbicides from BASF and Corteva Agriscience. BASF said the ruling could have a “significant adverse impact” on its customers that have already purchased such products for this growing season. Link to Bloomberg article for details.
     
  • House to consider policing overhaul legislation. Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she expects the House to consider policing overhaul legislation this month. "We anticipate that legislation will be considered before the month is over," Bass said. "I would speculate the last week of June."
     
  • House appropriators to start fiscal 2021 markups week of July 6. House Democrats are planning a marathon appropriations markup schedule with a goal of reporting out of committee all dozen bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 in the first half of July.
     
  • Hemp industry asks Congress to help on FDA guidance. The hemp industry is eying the next economic relief bill or must-pass legislation as potential vehicles for provisions to expand the definition of dietary supplements to include hemp-derived cannabidiol products.
     
  • Trump gives reason for wanting Russia invited to G7 confab. President Trump, in an interview on Fox and Friends, defended his push to re-invite Russia to the Group of Seven (G&) summit later this year, despite opposition from other G7 members. “Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia, and if he was there, it’d be much easier to solve,” Trump said.

 

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