CFAP 2 Likely Based on Revenue and Not Prices

Posted on 09/11/2020 8:06 AM

Hopes for a new federal coronavirus stimulus before Election Day are fading

 


In Today’s Updates


 

Market Focus:
* Traders await today's USDA WASE and Crop Production reports
* WSJ poll: Economists expect annualized third-quarter GDP growth of 23.9%
* U.S. gasoline de mand stalls with end of summer driving season
* Crush of goods coming into West Coast seaports is straining capacity

* ECB President Lagarde sounds optimistic note on eurozone’s economy...
* ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane notes more caution on economic path
* U.K. gross domestic product grew for the third straight month in July
* Hog futures soar on trade fallout from German ASF find
* Trade fallout from German ASF find
* Big U.S./Mexico trade dispute is brewing re: U.S. biotech corn
* Hedge funds boosting bets on copper

 

Policy Focus:
* Hopes for a new federal coronavirus stimulus before Election Day are fading
* Peterson asks: Where’s the confirmation EPA will reject RFS waivers?
* CFAP payments rise to $9.7 billion
* USDA to farmers: Act quickly to update PLC yields
* Grassley, Ernst urge relief from Section 232 tariffs on steel

 

U.S./China update:
* China continues its buys of U.S. corn, soybeans
* Biden’s China plan: a hardline course similar to Trump’s
* China bars coverage of Mulan


U.S. food & beverage industry update:
* Smithfield fined for failing to protect employees from coronavirus; more fines ahead


Update on re-opening America... and around the world:
* JPMorgan tells trading-floor staff to come back to the office


Coronavirus update:
* Western Europe surpasses U.S. in its new daily Covid-19 infections
* New York City marks 9/11 anniversary with intimate event

 

Politics & Elections:
* Cook Political Report notes electoral college rating changes for Fla. & Nevada
* Russian hackers have targeted at least 200 groups tied to U.S. election
* Point, counter-point between Collin Peterson and Michelle Fischbach


Other Items of Note:
* Trade talks between Britain and the European Union will continue next week
* U.K. reaches agreement with Japan to clinch its first major post-Brexit trade deal
* Rosy Brummette joins NCGA’s Washington, D.C. office
* Cotton AWP eases

 

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed overnight, with Asian shares mostly up and European shares mostly down. U.S. stock indexes are set for higher openings, but recent trading sessions have seen higher openings quickly vanish into sharp declines. Market liquidity remains thin, and this can leave stocks vulnerable to exaggerated moves around big options trades, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

 

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow fell 405.89 points, 1.45%, at 27,534.58. The Nasdaq dropped 221.97 points, 1.99%, at 10,919.59. The S&P 500 declined 59.77 points, 1.76%, at 3,339.19.

 

On tap today:

 

     • USDA Weekly Export Sales report, 8:30 a.m. ET. UPDATE: China continues to buy U.S. corn and soybeans… details below.
     • CFTC Commitments of Traders report, 4 p.m. ET
     • USDA WASDE and Crop Production report, noon ET
     • U.S. consumer price index for August, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to rise 0.3% from a month earlier and 1.2% from a year earlier. Excluding food and energy, CPI is expected to rise 0.3% from a month earlier and 1.6% from a year earlier.
     • U.S. quarterly services survey for the second quarter is out at 10 a.m. ET.
     • Baker Hughes rig count is out at 1 p.m. ET
     • U.S. Treasury releases its monthly federal budget report at 2 p.m.

 

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal expect annualized third-quarter GDP growth of 23.9%, up from the prior survey’s 18.3% forecast. They also see faster labor-market improvement, after payrolls gained 1.37 million jobs last month. But with the number of people seeking and collecting unemployment benefits still at historically high levels, one concern is the consumer-spending impact of the expiration of the extra $600 a week the federal government was paying until July 31. Lawmakers are at odds over further relief measures, and Democrats on Thursday blocked Senate Republicans’ “skinny” bill (details below) which would have provided $300 in weekly federal jobless benefits through Dec. 27. Link for details.

 

U.S. gasoline demand has stalled with the end of summer driving season, partially explaining the recent decline in oil prices. August demand was down 18% from the same period last year, according to new data Thursday from OPIS, an IHS Markit affiliate. Demand had been picking up earlier this summer, but gasoline consumption actually fell 1.9% during the last full week of August from the previous week. “The plateauing in demand is a symptom of the continuing aggressiveness of the coronavirus and is telling us that it will take longer to get back to normal,” said Daniel Yergin, IHS Markit vice chairman.

 

     Regarding the global outlook, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) lowered its forecast for 2021 global oil demand in its short-term energy outlook Wednesday. EIA projects that consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels globally will average 93.1 million barrels per day this year, which is down 8.3 million b/d from 2019. Demand will increase by 6.5 million b/d in 2021, but that is 0.5 million b/d less than what EIA forecast in August. EIA blames lower than expected consumption growth in China.

 

     Meanwhile, EIA expects the U.S. to generate less electricity from natural gas next year due to higher prices, resulting in a slight uptick for coal. Natural gas will generate 39% of U.S. power this year, but only 34% in 2021, while coal will provide 20% of electricity in 2020 compared to 22% next year. Renewables will also see an uptick, from 20% this year to 22% in 2021.

 

A crush of goods coming into West Coast seaports is straining capacity at the gateways and on key inland distribution lanes, raising shipping prices for retailers and complicating efforts to replenish inventories following the supply chain upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic. The activity marks a sharp turnaround from the spring, when U.S. ports reported double-digit declines in imports of containers, which carry most retail and manufacturing goods into the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports (link).

 

     Crushing

 

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde sounded an optimistic note on the eurozone’s economy and played down concerns over the recent strength of the euro, sparking a rally in the common currency and stirring questions as to whether the bank will provide a fresh round of stimulus to support the region’s stuttering recovery. Following a meeting of the ECB’s governing council, Lagarde said the 19-nation currency union was experiencing a strong economic rebound from the deep contraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts warned that the ECB might be too sanguine at a time when Covid-19 cases are surging across the continent and eurozone inflation has fallen below zero.

 

     ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane said in a blog post that there was more caution on the economic path. “It should be abundantly clear that there is no room for complacency,” Lane said in a blog post today (Sept. 11). He pointed out that the recovery in the region has been uneven with fresh weakness in the services sector and warned that inflation was too low in part due to a stronger euro. "Over the coming months, a richer information set will become available that will help to inform the calibration of monetary policy," Lane said. French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau also commented on the risks from a strong euro, pointing out that it has limited price pressures. ECB board member Isabel Schnabel also commented that the ECB would "be careful to not choke the incipient recovery" by tightening monetary policy too early. Legarde did address the euro value, noting that they would “carefully” monitor the situation, a phrasing that many observers conclude is the least aggressive way to address the value of a currency. Clearly the ECB is concerned about the value of the euro and the remarks from various officials continue to bolster expectations that additional stimulus actions by the ECB will be forthcoming.

 

     Euro

 

U.K. gross domestic product grew for the third straight month in July. The 6.6% increase "suggests that the record-breaking negative growth rate of GDP in 2Q will be followed by a record-breaking positive growth rate in 3Q," said Capital Economics economist Thomas Pugh. "However, July was probably the last of the big step ups in activity and a full recovery probably won’t be achieved until early 2022."

 

     UK outlook

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • Traders expect USDA will lower its corn production and carryover forecasts from last month in today's update. On average, traders expect USDA to estimate the U.S. corn crop at 14.898 billion bu. and new-crop ending stocks at 2.451 billion bu., down 380 million bu. and 305 million bu., respectively, from last month. Much of the focus will be on USDA’s yield and harvested acres estimates, which are expected to decline 3.5 bu. per acre and 500,000 acres, respectively. On the demand side, key focus is on USDA's estimate of total Chinese corn imports.


     • Soybeans: The Supply & Demand update from USDA is expected to show new-crop carryover dropping from 610 million bu. in August to 465 million bu. on a smaller production estimate, improving export demand and strong crusher demand. The report will also include some global production/carryover updates, with updated South American production forecasts likely to get some attention.

 

     • Wheat: Traders await today's USDA monthly world crop report to assess contrasting harvest prospects in major exporting countries. Most are looking for higher crop estimates in Russia, Canada and Australia to offset expected cuts in Argentina, Europe and Ukraine. World ending stocks are expected to remain at a record. USDA won’t update the U.S. crop until the end of this month.

 

     • Cotton: USDA's update is expected to show smaller U.S. cotton supplies.

 

     • Hog futures ended limit-up Thursday on export prospects on trade fallout from German ASF find — see next item.

 

     • Trade fallout from German ASF find. The discovery of a case of African swine fever (ASF) in a wild boar in Bradenburg prompted South Korea to issue a ban on imports of pork from Europe’s largest pork producing country. South Korea has been the second largest buyer of German pork behind China. German farm officials are now worried that ASF could cost them the Chinese market — one that took in $1.2 billion in German pork last year. "I hope that the Chinese market remains open," Joachim Rukwied, president of Germany’s DBV farming association, said on German television channel ARD. "I hope that they will take a similar course of action as in the European Union, with a regionalized answer in which only meat from the affected region can not be exported elsewhere in the EU.” Others in the country also fear an export halt, with the ISN big breeder’s association warning that the veterinary certificates on pork from Germany can no longer state the country is ASF free.

     Reuters today reported: German pork exports to China, some other non-EU countries are suspended: Ministry.

 

     • A possible big U.S./Mexico trade dispute is brewing re: U.S. biotech corn. Some sources signal a high-level official in Mexico' wants to halt such imports and that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is considering the request. If acted on, this will be a major issue relative to USMCA implementation and sure to get the attention of farm groups and farm-state lawmakers. Mexico's president recently announced the resignation of his environment minister, nearly a month after a leaked recording showed that cabinet member criticizing the president’s administration. López Obrador said Wednesday that Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Victor Manuel Toledo had been considering quitting even before the leaked recording, which clearly showed he was unhappy with the administration’s direction on environmental issues. López Obrador says, “Public service produces stress” and “not all of us are made to support the pressure.” López Obrador then attacked environmental groups as being funded by foreign interests and in his state-of-the-nation address dismissed environmentalists as “pseudoecologists.”

 

     • Hedge funds are boosting their bets on copper.

 

Wildfires brought new devastation to America’s west coast. The blazes have killed at least 14 people across California, Oregon and Washington state. More than 3 million acres have been scorched in California this year, an area 20 times greater than at this point last year. Thousands of people have been evacuated. A dense blanket of hazardous smoke covered almost the entire coastline.

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

GOP's 'skinny' coronavirus relief measure blocked in Senate by Democrats' filibuster card. The Senate vote Thursday to end debate on the Republican package package (S 178) was 52-47, falling short of the necessary 60 votes. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was able to keep all but one of his 53-member conference on board, an important signal to Democratic leaders. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the sole GOP "no" vote. Paul previously indicated he was uninterested in adding any more to the national debt and would not support the bill.

 

     The vote gives vulnerable Senate Republican incumbents something to point to on the campaign trail after the chamber recesses next month until after Election Day, if the parties can't work out a broader deal before then.

 

     In opening remarks before the vote, McConnell cast his move to bring up the package as a test for Democrats. “Should we at least vote to move forward and have this debate out in the open, or do our Democratic colleagues prefer to hide behind closed doors and refuse to help families before the election?” he asked. Americans are wondering, McConnell said, if “Washington Democrats really care more about hurting President [Donald] Trump than helping them through this crisis.”

 

     Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in his rebuttal reiterated his attack on the bill as "emaciated." It lacks, among other things, housing assistance, nutrition assistance, aid to state and local governments and funding to build out broadband connections that Democrats insist on, he said.

 

     Background. House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion package (HR 6800) in May, but have since offered to meet the Senate GOP roughly halfway at $2.2 trillion.

 

     Now what? White House officials have signaled they might be willing to go as high as $1.5 trillion. The Senate vote Thursday, in which Republicans rallied around a bill with a net cost of around $300 billion after offsets, could solidify GOP opposition to anything more than what the Trump administration is willing to offer. Some GOP leaders are growing increasingly pessimistic about any deal with Democrats before the election.

 

     The bottom line comes from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): “My guess is as of now, unless [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi (D-Calif.) changes her mind and talks to the White House, there’s not going to be anything done.” Other Republicans blamed the impasse on an apparent Democratic calculation that voters would pin blame on Republicans. “I think they’ve decided that if things go bad, that the president and Republicans will be blamed and it will help them win in November,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “As long as they believe that, we’re not going to be able to work on anything.” Any agreement between Democrats and the White House will likely cost substantially more than most congressional Republicans prefer — several Senate Republicans said they wouldn’t support a $1.5 trillion bill because of concerns about rising debt levels. Thus, a big funding dilemma.

 

     Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has conducted talks with Democrats alongside White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said last week that the administration could support a roughly $1.5 trillion deal. But will Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues go along with the GOP's Plan B price tag? “You don’t need 50 or 51 or 52 Republicans to pass the final bill,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). But that means Democratic lawmaker support in sufficient numbers. Thus far, Pelosi is showing no give. If Pelosi continues to balk, sources say that is a clear sign Democrats want to wait until after elections, thinking they will have more leverage and before that blame Republicans.

     As for ag sector aid, USDA can tap it's virtual ATM machine, the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), for initial aid, then thinking that in a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through Dec. 18, Congress will replenish the CCC funding for perhaps another phase of aid payments and for traditional farm program payouts. Pro Farmer has learned that CFAP 2 will be based on revenue and not prices, unlike CFAP 1 that is based on prices. USDA is expected to release CFAP 2 details either later today or on Monday, with signup expected to start a week later.

 

Peterson asks: Where’s the confirmation EPA will reject RFS waivers? House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Thursday that he hasn’t seen “anything in writing” that President Donald Trump has told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject the small refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and that he fears the report about it may be speculation that Trump will try to use until after the election.

 

     During a WCCO radio debate in his re-election campaign for the Seventh District in Minnesota, Peterson said that he hadn’t seen “anything in writing.” He said there was “speculation in Washington,” but noted it is based on anonymous sources. It’s possible, Peterson said, that the Republicans are using this to “get past the election.”

 

     Peterson’s opponent, former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, also a former state senator, said the exemptions would be denied, and said the Justice Department did not join a lawsuit from the oil industry to void a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that EPA was wrong to issue some past waivers.

 

     About the closest thing to the administration "putting in writing" their stance on the small refinery exemption issue is their response to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) presidential questionnaire where they pointed to EPA’s commitment to ensure Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending mandates going forward are not “undermined by small refinery waivers.”

 

     Perspective: President Trump lacks trust on this issue among many in the ag and renewable fuel sector. Prior meetings with the president concluded with those groups thinking they won the president over, only to see later a much different situation. Democratic lawmakers, Joe Biden and his ag advisors and some ag and biofuel groups are going all out on this issue, sensing political gain should Trump not issue a solid and believable announcement on this topic. A White House contact again signaled to watch President Trump's next visit to Iowa. That clearly suggests Trump wants to make an official announcement in the state, with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) beside him. Ernst is in a close re-election race with Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

 

     A Trump administration source on this topic quipped, “The Iowa Corn Growers Assn. has written so many releases and letters on this issue that this is part of the reason why lumber prices have surged....”

 

CFAP payments rise to $9.7 billion. Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1) reached $9.7 billion as of Sept. 8, according to the Farm Service Agency (FSA), rising from $9.4 billion the prior week.

 

     Payments to livestock producers make up the largest share at $4.8 billion, followed by $2.5 billion to non-specialty crops, $1.7 billion for dairy and $594 million for specialty crops.

 

     By commodity, the payouts include $4.2 billion for cattle which is broken down as being $1.1 billion for cattle on feed over 600 pounds, $1.1 billion for all other cattle, $978 million for cattle on feed under 600 pounds, $811 million for all fed cattle slaughtered and $134 million for mature slaughter cattle. Payments for hog producers total $593 million, including $340 million for hogs over 120 pounds and $253 million for hogs under 120 pounds. Payments for corn total $1.7 billion with soybeans at $489 million.

 

USDA to farmers: Act quickly to update PLC yields. Farm owners currently have a one-time opportunity to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities. The deadline is Sept. 30 to update yields, which are used to calculate the PLC payments for 2020 through 2023. Additionally, producers who elected Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) should also consider updating their yields.

 

     The last time farmers could update yields for these important safety net programs was in 2014, noted Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce. He explained that it is the farm owner’s choice whether to update or keep existing yields. Those who rent need to communicate with their landlord who will be the one to sign off on the yield updates.

 

     If a yield update is not made, no action is required to maintain the existing base crop yield on file with FSA. For program payments, updated yields will apply beginning with the 2020 crop year which, should payments trigger, will be paid out in October 2021. Soybeans are a covered crop. Link for details on determining yield updates. Link or more on the ARC/PLC programs.

 

Grassley, Ernst urge relief from Section 232 tariffs on steel as state rebuilds from derecho. Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have called on the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide an exemption from the Section 232 tariffs on steel, noting that “opportunists” are offering extremely high estimates to Iowans for the steel they need to rebuild their homes, farms, businesses, and communities.”

 

     Specifically referencing steel grain bins that need to be replaced after being damaged or destroyed by the derecho storm, the lawmakers said a “number of farmers have told us that the increased prices for steel would collectively add hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for them.”

 

     The two senators pointed to testimony Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered when asked in June 2018 about when consumers would see relief from high steel prices. Ross testified that there had been “speculative activity” that had been taking place by “various intermediary parties,” noting DOC was investigating the situation. The lawmakers urged the exemption be ordered by Commerce as the current exclusion process involves number forms to be submitted and can take months to reach a conclusion. “We can assure you that you don’t need paperwork or more than a moment to see that either of your Department’s criteria is met here,” the letter stated.

   

     They also pointed out lifting the tariffs would not injure domestic steel producers but allow for imports to increase supply in this emergency situation, something which the letter points out Commerce has indicated it needs relative to the authority to have “flexibility in case of an emergency.” The two conclude, “Well, there’s clearly one now.” Link to letter.

 

Update on China:

  • China continues its buys of U.S. corn, soybeans. USDA’s Weekly Export Sales report showed that for the week ended Sept. 3, sales of U.S. ag commodities to China for 2020-21 included 1,194,540 tonnes of corn, 86,000 tonnes of sorghum, 1,592,905 tonnes of soybeans, 79,077 running bales of upland cotton, but net reductions of 659 tonnes of wheat.

    For 2020, there were sales of 1,205 tonnes of beef and 8,301 tonnes of pork to China.

    For the end of the 2019-20 marketing year, USDA said there were net reductions of 57,345 tonnes of corn, putting total U.S. corn export commitments to China for the marketing year at 2,255,039 tonnes with 145,000 tonnes of outstanding sales. There were also 5,601 tonnes of outstanding sales of sorghum. For soybeans, U.S. export commitments totaled 15,874,758 tonnes for 2019-20, with 755,863 tonnes listed as outstanding sales.

     
  • USDA daily exports sales announcements today:

    * 222,000 metric tons of for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2020-2021 marketing year; and
    * 262,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2020-2021 marketing year.

     
  • China bars coverage of Mulan. The Chinese government has barred major media outlets from covering the release of the film Mulan in response to international backlash over the revelation that the movie was filmed in China’s Xinjiang province, where the government is accused of brutally repressing the local Uighur Muslim community in a campaign widely considered a cultural genocide.

    Disney came under heavy criticism after the filming location was revealed. The film’s credits explicitly thanked eight different government entities in Xinjiang, as well as the publicity department of the CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee.

     
  • Advisers to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden say they share the Trump administration’s assessment that China is a disruptive competitor. This suggests that even with an administration change in January, friction between China and the U.S. would remain high, according to a Wall Street Journal article (link). The article says this suggests friction between China and the U.S. would remain high even if there’s a change of administration in January. But the two candidates send different signals on tactics and messaging. Their contrasting diplomatic approaches reflect their clashing governing philosophies.

    China trade deficit

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

Food and beverage industry update:

 

  • Smithfield fined more than $13,000 for failing to protect employees from coronavirus. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied a fine of $13,494 — the maximum allowed by law — against Smithfield Foods for “failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm." The fine and citation was related to employees of the firm’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant where at least 1,294 employees contracted Covid-19 and four died. But the fine was criticized by union officials who labeled it merely a slap on the wrist for Smithfield. "The failure by the Trump administration to hold Smithfield accountable makes clear that this White House cares more about industry profits than protecting America's essential workers," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. This comes after California issued its own fines.

    Perspective: Trump administration sources signal there are additional fines coming. This comes at an awkward time as some lawmakers push for liability protection on this topic.

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

  • JPMorgan tells trading-floor staff to come back to the office. JPMorgan executives told senior employees of the bank’s giant sales and trading operation that they and their teams must return to the office by Sept. 21, according to media reports. Trading chief Troy Rohrbaugh and Marc Badrichani, the bank’s global head of sales and research, reportedly delivered the message in conference calls Wednesday morning. The two executives said employees with child-care issues and medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus complications can continue working from home.

Coronavirus update:

  • Summary: Source: Johns Hopkins University as of 6:30 a.m. ET.

    — 28,200,037: Confirmed cases world-wide, and 910,134 deaths
    — 35,286: New U.S. cases recorded yesterday
    — 6,397,547: Total confirmed cases in the U.S.
    — 907: Deaths in the U.S. recorded yesterday
    — 191,802: Total U.S. deaths
    — 85,181,078: Tests conducted in the U.S.

    Link to Covid Case Tracker

    Link to Our World in Data

     
  • Western Europe surpassed the U.S. in its new daily Covid-19 infections, re-emerging as a global hotspot for the virus having seemingly brought it under control before the summer. France recorded nearly 10,000 new cases on Thursday, the most since its lockdown ended four months ago. A government meeting is due to take place today to discuss measures to curb the spread. Cases are rising in Denmark too, surpassing neighbor Sweden, which didn't impose a lockdown.

    Meanwhile, the U.K. added Portugal and Hungary to its quarantine list.

     
  • New York City marks 9/11 anniversary with intimate event. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the memorial service commemorating the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks will be a small gathering of victims’ loved ones.
     

POLITICS & ELECTIONS


 

  • Links
    2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map
    The Green Papers
    Real Clear Politics
    — Presidential debates: Scheduled to occur Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.
    — VP debate: Scheduled for Oct. 7.
    Days until election

     
  • Cook Political Report notes electoral college rating changes as Florida and Nevada shift right. Says the report's Amy Walter: “We are making two rating changes in Pres. Trump's favor, moving Florida from Lean Democrat to Toss Up, and Nevada from Likely Democrat to Lean Democrat. Biden's Electoral College lead has narrowed to 279 to 187 for Trump. Earlier this summer, Biden held a 308 to 187 lead.”
     
  • Russian hackers have targeted at least 200 groups tied to U.S. election. Microsoft said that Chinese, Iranian and Russian hackers have attempted to mount cyber-attacks on hundreds of groups and people involved in the U.S. presidential election, including the campaigns of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It said the hackers included the Russian group that undermined Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Trump in 2016. Microsoft said the Russians’ tactics have evolved since then.

    Hackers reportedly targeted staffers at the prominent campaign strategy and communications firm SKDKnickerbocker, which has worked on the campaigns of several past Democratic presidential candidates and is currently taking a lead role in supporting Biden’s run. Sources told Reuters that they had been trying to break into the firm’s networks for the past two months, but they appear to have failed to breach SKDK’s security. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the claim “nonsense.”

    On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned four people accused of trying to interfere in the election on behalf of Russia. One is a member of the Ukrainian parliament, while the other three are Russian nationals employed by Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which was heavily involved in Moscow’s influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

     
  • Point, counter-point between Collin Peterson and Michelle Fischbach during a WCCO radio debate:

    * Clout: Peterson referred to his clout as House Agriculture Committee chairman and that “on ag stuff [Pelosi] listens to me and that is invaluable to this district.” He added he does not always vote with Pelosi and the party majority. Under his leadership, he said, the House Agriculture Committee is the most bipartisan in the House. He added he has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, higher than Minnesota Republican Reps. Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber. “I don’t see myself as a partisan, I see myself as an American,” he said.

         Fischbach mentioned her support of Trump, and that if elected, she would be able to be “in Trump’s ear.”

    * Regarding the 2018 Farm Bill, Fischbach applauded the dairy provisions and acknowledged Peterson wrote that section of the bill.

    * Changes ahead: Peterson said he has been working on a proposal to give the USDA secretary the authority to address the problems that have come up during the coronavirus pandemic so that the Ag Dept. does not have to “scramble” to provide solutions. Fischbach said her agenda is to “make sure everything is reopened,” make tax cuts permanent, and make sure “the economy is moving.”

    * On China, Fischbach said U.S. farmers had been hurt by Chinese tariffs. Peterson noted China imposed them in response to tariffs that President Trump initially imposed on Chinese goods.

    * Mail in votes for coming election. Fischbach and Peterson both revealed they do not have concerns about the integrity of the vote in the Seventh District. However, Peterson said some constituents are telling him their mail has been late.

     

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE


 

  • Trade talks between Britain and the European Union will continue next week despite tensions over Boris Johnson’s proposed new legislation overriding parts of the withdrawal agreement signed in January, thereby breaching international law. Negotiators warned that big differences remain between the two sides. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)said Wednesday that if the U.K. violates its international agreements, “there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S./U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress.” The U.K. and the EU are currently trying to reach a trade agreement before the end of the transition period on Dec. 31, with the U.K. set to go onto World Trade Organization rules if no agreement is reached.
     
  • U.K. reaches agreement with Japan to clinch its first major post-Brexit trade deal. The U.K. and Japan today agreed in principle to a trade deal, the U.K.'s first major agreement post-Brexit. The announcement, which the U.K. hailed as a “historic moment,” comes as Britain struggles to secure an agreement with its closest trading partners in the European Union. Britain’s trade department said U.K. businesses would benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. It also suggested the deal would see the country increase trade with Japan by £15.2 billion ($19.5 billion). The deal will include digital and data provisions that go “far beyond” the EU-Japan deal, Britain claimed. The tentative agreement, which will require the approval of both the U.K. and Japanese parliaments, is scheduled to come into the force at the end of the year.
     
  • Rosy Brummette has joined NCGA’s Washington, D.C. office as Manager of Public Policy for Market Development and Renewable Fuels. Brummette will play a vital role in NCGA’s efforts to expand market opportunities for corn and advocating for the organization’s ethanol and trade policy goals. Brummette most recently served as a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry under Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), where she focused on biofuels, energy, agriculture conservation and climate issues.
     
  • Cotton AWP eases. The Adjusted World Price (AWP) for cotton fell to 49.77 cents per pound, effective today (Sept. 11), down from 50.44 cents per pound the prior week. The AWP means there is still the opportunity for a 2.23-cent LDP. USDA also announced that Special Import Quota #21 would be established for 10,760 bales of upland cotton on Sept. 17, applying to supplies purchased not later than December 15 and entered into the U.S. not later than March 15. This marks the first expansion of the quota in several weeks, signaling that demand for cotton started improving during the period covered by the report — the three months from May 2020 through July 2020.

 

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