Reuters: White House drops plan to pay small refineries denied RFS waivers
In Today’s Updates
* Vix index at highest level in weeks
* U.S. dollar rebound is putting pressure on commodities
* Treasuries steadied before Powell & Mnuchin testify today
* Net worth of U.S. households sets record
* CBO: U.S. economy to grow more slowly in coming decades
* Front-month gold futures on Monday fell to lowest close since late July
* Pelosi and Dems nix billions in funding for USDA's CCC; House votes on CR today
* Several Dems note 'slush fund' in remarks about CCC expenditures
* Peterson: Meat, ethanol producers at risk if no aid soon
* Perdue disputes conjecture re: CCC funds for cash payouts to some refiners
* White House drops plan to pay cash to refiners denied RFS waivers: Reuters
* EPA still shows pending gap-year SRE requests, slight uptick for 2019, 2020
* Transportation provisions in pending House stopgap spending measure
* Graham: Votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court choice before Nov. 3
* House GOP report: China cover-up & WHO failures worsened pandemic
* China’s Xi swipes at U.S. for acting like ‘boss of the world
* Court in Beijing sentenced critic of President Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison
* Fears of a second wave of Covid-19 ricocheted across the globe
Politics & Elections:
* Senate confirmation of Supreme Court justice by Nov. 3 difficult, but doable
* Trump moving toward nominating Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court
* Keystone state key for presidential race
* Former House Speaker John Boehner's book will be released April 13, 2021
Other Items of Note:
* Ginsburg to lie in repose at Court, Capitol
* CFAP 2 excludes cows and bulls
* Final rule for CFAP 2 published in Federal Register
* USTR publishes FY 2020 allocation of additional raw cane sugar TRQ
* Brazil leader says extra import quota granted by U.S. for Brazil sugar
* Cause of mysterious mass death of elephants in Botswana determined
Equities today: U.S. equity futures ticked lower. International stock markets were mixed. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.5%. Asian markets followed U.S. shares lower. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3% by the close, while South Korea’s Kospi shed 2.4%.
U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow dropped 509.72 points, 1.84%, at 27,147.70 — a late-day rally in tech stocks helped the Dow pare its losses in the final hour of trading after earlier declining as much as 942 points. The Nasdaq dropped 14.48 points, 0.13%, at 10,778.80. The S&P 500 was down 38.41 points, 1.16%, at 3,281.06. One of the reasons for the equity plunge was that investors see dwindling prospects for a new stimulus package amid the campaign season.
On tap today:
• U.S. existing-home sales are expected to rise to an annual pace of 6.05 million in August, up from 5.86 million a month earlier. The data are due at 10 a.m. ET.
• Richmond Fed manufacturing survey for September, due at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to fall to 14 from 18 a month earlier.
• Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin present a quarterly report on the Cares Act to the House Financial Services Committee at 10:30 a.m. ET.
• Federal Reserve: Chicago’s Charles Evans speaks to the Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum at 10 a.m. ET, Richmond’s Thomas Barkin speaks to the Greenville, S.C., Chamber of Commerce at 12 p.m. ET, and Atlanta’s Raphael Bostic speaks on the payments industry at 3 p.m. ET.
• Reserve Bank of New Zealand releases a rate decision at 10 p.m.
Net worth of U.S. households increased by $7.6 trillion, or 6.8%, in the second quarter from the first quarter, to $119 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. That pushed it above the previous record, set in the fourth quarter.
U.S. economy is likely to grow more slowly in coming decades and the public debt burden will increase more than previously forecast, due in large part to the coronavirus-induced recession, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday. The agency now anticipates average annual GDP growth of 1.6% from 2020 to 2050, roughly a full quarter percentage point less than it expected in June 2019, the last time it released long-term economic projections. Growth averaged 2.5% from 1990 to 2019. Debt as a share of gross domestic product is forecast to hit 195% by 2050, 45 percentage points higher than the CBO projected in June 2019.
• The Cboe Volatility Index, jumped Monday to its highest level in weeks. The Vix represents the market's expectation of 30-day forward-looking volatility and provides a measure of market risk and investors' sentiments.
• U.S. dollar rebound is putting pressure on commodities. Today, the dollar extended its biggest daily advance in three months.
• Treasuries steadied before Fed Chair Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speak later in the day at a congressional panel. In prepared remarks published Monday ahead of Powell’s scheduled testimony, the policy maker suggested Congress would need to spend more to shore up struggling parts of the economy. “The path forward will depend on keeping the virus under control, and on policy actions taken at all levels of government,” Powell said, adding that the economic response to the coronavirus alleviated the fallout from the pandemic-induced recession. Powell is due to testify to the House Financial Services Committee alongside Mnuchin, starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.
• Brent-crude futures, the international energy benchmark, ticked up 0.6% to $41.66 a barrel today. This year, Brent has moved between a closing high of $68.91 in early January and a low of $19.33 in April. The WSJ notes that only twice since 1990 has the price range been wider. The last time that the market saw such volatility was during the crash of 2014.
• Crude oil has gained ahead of the U.S. trading start, taking back a small portion of Monday's decline. U.S. crude is trading around $39.60 per barrel and Brent around $42 per barrel. Prices had moved higher in Asian trading, recovering some of Monday’s drubbing. U.S. crude was up 21 cents at $39.75 per barrel while Brent was up 22 cents at $41.66 per barrel.
• Front-month gold futures on Monday fell 2.6% to $1,901.20 a troy ounce, their lowest close since late July, while silver dropped 10% to roughly $24.30 a troy ounce.
— Pelosi and Dems nix billions in funding for USDA's CCC; House votes on CR today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democrats in the chamber released a draft stopgap government funding bill Monday without support from the White House or Senate Republicans, raising at least the risk of a federal shutdown at the end of the month, even though most think that will not occur. The House plans to vote on the measure today after a tentative deal fell through.
The bill would extend current levels of spending for agencies past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year through Dec. 11.
The measure does not include $30 billion for replenishing USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) that the White House had sought and which Democrats reportedly want to negotiate as part of separate stimulus negotiations. The House Rules Committee on Monday refused to allow debate on proposed floor amendments addressing the CCC issue. The Rules panel issued a closed rule for the measure that would bar amendments and require a simple majority for passage. Pelosi’s office released a statement explaining the decision that said: “What the Trump Administration wanted added to the clean CR wasn’t help for farmers — it was more than $20 billion more taxpayer dollars that the Trump Administration views as a bottomless, unaccountable political slush fund.” The statement added that Trump announced the new round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) at a campaign event in Wisconsin last Thursday. USDA announced the rules for the program the next day. That program is being funded with $14 billion Congress provided for the CCC account through the CARES Act, enacted in March. Enrollment for the CFAP-2 payments started Monday and runs through Dec. 11.
Several Democrats on Monday used the “slush fund” phrase relative to CCC expenditures. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) argued that the Trump administration is using the CCC as a “slush fund” for favored constituencies, pointing to aid that went to lobster fisheries in Maine as “political payments” meant to help GOP Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) re-election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales ranks Collins' race a "Toss-up" in November. Meanwhile, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), “Some think it is bad policy to use the CCC as a political slush fund.”
Stabenow in a release (link) said: “Farmers have been hurting due to multiple disasters — and those hit the hardest need support from USDA. Whether it’s using USDA dollars to bail out Big Oil or favoring certain farmers over others, the Trump administration has proven they cannot be trusted to distribute payments fairly without additional congressional oversight. Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to add more accountability into the Commodity Credit Corporation funds,” Stabenow said. “Fortunately, USDA does not need an advanced refill in order to meet important farm bill obligations. The department will receive its annual reimbursement In November and it has the resources it needs in the meantime. Under current law, unchanged by the continuing resolution, the Commodity Credit Corporation will receive its normal reimbursement in mid-November after filing financial reports for the fiscal year as required by law. Congress has provided USDA a total of $44 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation funds this year — and an additional $9.5 billion in direct producer assistance. This will give USDA enough money to spend on farm bill programs through October, if managed appropriately — including additional COVID-19-related disaster programs authorized under the CARES Act. If there are additional needs, the secretary has tremendous flexibility to transfer unspent funds to fully fund farm bill programs.”
Rep. Conaway said that the Democrats are upset with the Trump administration for providing aid to farmers who had lost sales to China and now for making payments to them due to problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He noted negotiators had made a deal to include CCC funding and other provisions last week, but that Pelosi decided against it, which he said was “terrible” policy and politics and might jeopardize passage of the entire CR. Conaway also said that he had discussed the situation with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) last week and he and Peterson are in agreement that the CCC and Pandemic EBT provisions should be included in the CR.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded, “House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America."
Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said: “We’re disappointed that Congress has not reached an agreement on replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation. For years, both parties have come together to ensure the CCC provides a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. A fully funded CCC is as important as ever as farmers are suffering through a pandemic, trade imbalances and severe weather. The impact of the CCC is far reaching. Without immediate CCC replenishment, programs laid out in the farm bill, including conservation and rural development, as well as supplemental funding for nutrition programs, are all at risk. We strongly encourage members of Congress to put their differences aside in order to address the needs of rural America.”
The House measure would also drop a $2.7 billion extension of the expiring Pandemic EBT program sought by Democrats, which provides meals for children who would normally receive free or reduced-price lunches when schools are open. Those provisions had been tentatively agreed to as part of a "deal in principle" on Friday.
The stopgap measure does include some ag-related items like reauthorization of the Grain Standards Act, making sure USDA can meet demand for direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans and an extension of authority for hemp pilot programs through Sept. 30, 2021. Another provision would extend the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act.
What's next? The stopgap funding bill is set to get a vote in the House tomorrow, according to a Democratic aide, and then will be sent to the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. The House measure increases prospects for a legislative ping-pong match and sending an amended version back to the House close to the Sept. 30 deadline. Some observers say this could be a Democratic political maneuver to shut down the government, thereby stopping hearings or votes on any Supreme Court nominee to be announced Friday or Saturday.
— Peterson: Meat, ethanol producers at risk if no aid soon. On the same day his political party nixed billions of dollars in additional funding for USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) warned on Monday that U.S. meat and ethanol producers struggling in the pandemic are in danger of going under if Washington doesn’t provide more help soon. Without quick help “a bunch of producers, especially in the hog industry” will be lost, Peterson said in a recorded video at a virtual Agri-Pulse conference. The ethanol industry also needs aid or “we are going to lose some of these plants long term,” Peterson said. Meat producers dealing with worker safety concerns and ethanol companies struggling because of lower fuel demand will face a new test as U.S. weather turns colder and the possibility of a more lethal phase of the pandemic rises.
A short-term spending bill released by House Democrats on Monday doesn’t include $30 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding sought by the White House. Democrats instead want to negotiate it as part of separate stimulus negotiations.
Meanwhile, Peterson told conference attendees that consumers should be prepared for some higher food prices. It’s clear plants, such as pork, won’t be able to “run as tight a ship as they did,” Peterson said. “So we are going to have probably higher prices and we are going to have to figure out how to deal with that... Consumers say they want the plant workers to be safe, they want the farmers to be safe, so I would assume they are going to support things being a little more expensive so that they can make that happen,” he said.
Peterson said the chance of re-opening the farm bill, which expires in 2023, to increase subsidies isn’t realistic. “We aren’t going to open the farm bill. That’s just not going to fly. We don’t have any money... Hopefully, things will get better and we won’t have a hurricane every other week and we won’t have a big storm going through Iowa and we won’t have California burning up. But we’ll deal with it as it comes.”
— Perdue disputes conjecture he would tap CCC funds for cash payouts to some refiners; White House reportedly drops plan. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said there are “no plans” to use Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding for possible cash payments of up to $300 million the White House is reportedly considering providing some small refiners who got their Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers denied. Reuters last week quoted sources as saying the funding could come from the CCC.
Perdue, during a farmer forum in central Illinois on Monday, said, “We don’t think that qualifies under Charter 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Act, and we’ve informed them of that. So we’ll have to see what happens,” Perdue said.
Perdue says President Trump is trying to be fair to both sides on the issue of small refinery exemptions. “He thinks that denying those waivers and complying with the RINs, and that, has hurt some of the small, independents (refiners). That may be the case, but if they need to get that, then they need to find another way to do that.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still used the conjecture regarding tapping CCC funding for small refiners in a statement yesterday to help explain why she and her Democratic colleagues removed a request from President Trump to replenish CCC funding via the stopgap spending measure.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the White House has dropped a plan to provide up to $300 million in payments to small refiners denied biofuel waivers.
— EPA still shows pending gap-year SRE requests, slight uptick for 2019, 2020. The level of small refinery exemptions (SREs) still shown as being pending at EPA has declined dramatically, with the agency data now showing 17 remain pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years as of Sept. 17.
Details: There are two each pending for the 2011, 2012 and 2018 compliance years, three each for 2013 and 2015, four for 2014 and one for the 2016 compliance year. EPA data now shows 33 SREs pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years, an increase from August data showing there were 31 SREs pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years.
— Transportation provisions in pending House stopgap spending measure:
• Federal highway, transit, and road safety programs would be extended by one year, through Sept. 30, 2021.
• The bill would appropriate $13.6 billion from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund: $10.4 billion into the Highway Account and $3.2 billion into the Mass Transit Account.
• The authority to spend money from the Highway Trust Fund would be extended by one year, until Oct. 1, 2021. The measure would similarly extend expenditure authority for the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund.
• The legislation would authorize spending from both accounts of the Highway Trust Fund and the general fund of the Treasury equal to, and subject to the same limitations as, the amounts appropriated in fiscal 2020 for surface transportation programs.
• Automatic adjustments to highway and mass transit authorizations for new deposits into the Highway Trust Fund, required by the 2015 highway bill (Public Law 114-94), wouldn’t apply to funds provided by the bill. The measure also would block any adjustment of apportionments for the Mass Transit Account based on unfunded authorizations, known as the Rostenkowski Test, for fiscal 2021.
The measure also would:
• Increase to $600 million, from $500 million, the cap on the amount of funding for nationally significant freight and highway projects that could go toward intermodal freight projects.
• Increase to $26.6 million, from $21.2 million, the authorization for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research into in-vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving.
Repeal a prohibition on federal funding to cover operating losses on Amtrak routes.
• Extend by one year, through Sept. 30, 2021, the Transportation Department’s loan and loan guarantee authority to support development near rail stations.
— Update on China:
- House GOP report: China cover-up and WHO failures worsened coronavirus pandemic. A new report (link) from Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee contends the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged coronavirus cover-up and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) actions allowed the coronavirus outbreak to grow into the lengthy and deadly pandemic that persists to this day. The 90-page report, titled The Origins of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Including the Roles of the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization, is severely critical of both the Chinese government and the WHO’s leadership, noting that “research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95% had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices” and asserting that “it is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented” had China followed its obligations under the 2005 International Health Regulations and the WHO pushed China to be honest and transparent about the coronavirus.
Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) repeated GOP calls for the resignation of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for the global health body’s response to the pandemic and its failure to censure China over its handling of the virus. “It is crystal clear that had the CCP been transparent, and had the head of the WHO cared more about global health than appeasing the CCP, lives could have been spared and widespread economic devastation could have been mitigated,” McCaul said in a statement. “Revealing the truth is just the first step; we must hold both the CCP and WHO Director General Tedros accountable for the suffering they have allowed the world to endure.”
The report makes four recommendations in response to what it views as gross missteps by the WHO and as punishment for China’s actions. Besides calling for the resignation of Tedros and the re-admittance of Taiwan to the WHO as an observer state, the report calls for strengthening International Health Regulations on the reporting of threatening diseases. House GOP members further said the WHO must “fix the deficiencies outlined by the Administration, adopt the recommendations of this report through internal action where possible, and make preparations for improvements and reforms that need to be ratified by the World Health Assembly at its next meeting or emergency session.”
- China’s Xi swipes at U.S. for acting like ‘boss of the world’. The Chinese president took a veiled swipe at the U.S. in a strongly worded speech, saying no country should “be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully or boss of the world.” Pushing for developing countries to have a greater role in world affairs, Xi said the United Nations could be “more balanced” and called for the “international order underpinned by international law,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing remarks made at a meeting commemorating the world body’s 75th anniversary. He said countries must not be “lorded over by those who wave a strong fist at others.”
- A court in Beijing sentenced a critic of President Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison on charges of alleged corruption. Ren Zhiqiang, a property tycoon, went missing in March after calling Xi “a bare naked clown” in an essay critical of his response to Covid-19. China has been criticized for using corruption charges to silence dissenters.
- U.S./China Phase 1 tracker: China’s purchases of U.S. goods. Link.
— Coronavirus update:
- Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are now at 31,337,352 with 965,064 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The U.S. case count is at 6,857,967 with 199,884 deaths.
Link to Covid Case Tracker
Link to Our World in Data
- Fears of a second wave of Covid-19 ricocheted across the globe. The British government’s chief scientific adviser warned the country could see as many as 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October and in a policy reversal Boris Johnson, the prime minister, was set to encourage people to work from home if possible. Keir Starmer, the opposition Labor party leader warned in a speech that a second lockdown would be “a sign of government failure, not an act of God.”
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
— 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
- Senate confirmation of new Supreme Court justice by Nov. 3 difficult, but tight deadlines have been done before. The Senate would have to move unusually quickly for this chamber to confirm Trump’s planned replacement before Nov. 3. Only two times since 1975 have senators been able to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in less time. The late John Paul Stevens’ confirmation in 1975 took 19 days, while former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor saw 33 days elapse from when she was nominated until a Senate vote in 1981. John Roberts was confirmed in 24 days.
The Senate is out of session for Yom Kippur next Monday and Tuesday, leaving fewer than 25 business days before Election Day to vet any nominee, conduct hearings and hold committee and floor votes. Observers note that Republicans could, in theory, hold a vote by late the week of Oct. 19 or early the next.
- Trump is moving toward nominating Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, according to reports, despite the president saying he’s considering as many as five candidates, with Trump saying he would announce his candidate Friday or Saturday. Trump privately met at the White House on Monday with Barrett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. The president spent much of the day with her and later told associates that he liked her, according to reports. Another potential candidate is Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit. She is a Cuban-American from Florida, a critical state for the president’s re-election chances.
Trump told reporters that he had narrowed the list to five women, but the other three identified by the people informed about the process were seen as long shots: Kate Todd, a deputy White House counsel, and Judges Allison Jones Rushing of the Fourth Circuit and Joan L. Larsen of the Sixth Circuit.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, says Republicans have the votes to confirm the president’s choice before the Nov. 3 election, though it will still be a challenge. “We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,” Graham said Monday night on Fox News. “We’re going to move forward in the committee; we’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election.” In a letter to Democrats on Monday, Graham made no attempt to argue that he was being consistent or following a nonpartisan principle, but instead said he reversed himself in retaliation for the Democrats’ treatment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was confirmed in 2018 and because Republicans have the power to proceed. “I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same,” Graham wrote.
Meanwhile, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) two of three remaining Republicans who might have opposed filling the seat, announced that they would support moving ahead with a nomination. That left only Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) considered undecided, but even without him, it appeared to guarantee at least 50 Republican votes to move ahead, with Vice President Mike Pence available to break a tie. Romney said he planned to announce his views after a senators’ lunch today.
- Keystone state key for presidential race. President Trump rallies today near Pittsburgh, and on Saturday in Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, which will mark his fourth visit to the state in September. For both him and Joe Biden, Pennsylvania appears the likeliest state to clinch a victory, according to the Economist. It has more electoral votes (20) than Michigan or Wisconsin — the other traditionally Democratic states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 — and Trump trails Biden by less than five points, compared with nearly eight in Michigan and almost seven in Wisconsin. Says the Economist: “Trump believes his law-and-order campaign will motivate conservative white voters. Biden’s nuanced position on fracking — he opposes new drilling on public lands — may be close enough to a ban to make Pennsylvanians, many of whom rely on it, nervous. Most Pennsylvanians over 25 are white non-college graduates — Trump’s core demographic. But a recent poll shows the candidates tied among white Pennsylvanians, who can surely expect lavished attention from both men between now and November 3.”
- Former House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) book will be released April 13, 2021. The cover of A Washington Memoir shows Boehner drinking red wine with a cigarette burning in an ashtray. Some things never change....
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
- Ginsburg to lie in repose at Court, Capitol. Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, with an outdoor viewing area for members of the public to pay respects. She will also lie in state in the National Statuary Hall at the Capitol building on Friday.
- Iowa Cattlemen's Association staff and leaders asked USDA for clarity regarding the "breeding stock" exclusion in CFAP 2 and have verified that neither cows nor bulls are eligible for payments under the program. Link to release. The final rule for CFAP 2 (see next item) very clearly says no on breeding stock for cattle, hogs and sheep.
- Final rule for CFAP 2 published in Federal Register. Link.
- USTR publishes FY 2020 allocation of additional raw cane sugar TRQ. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published today in the Federal Register a notice of the allocations of additional Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 in-quota quantities of the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) for imported raw cane sugar that were announced by the USDA on September 10. Link to Federal Register notice.
- Brazil leader says extra import quota granted by U.S. for Brazil sugar. The U.S. tariff-rate quota (TRQ) on imports of Brazilian sugar will see an increase of 80,000 tonnes, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said via Twitter. The U.S. move is in response to Brazil extending its tariff-free quota on imports of ethanol by three months, Bolsonaro said. "The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said today ... that Brazil would receive an additional quota of 80,000 tonnes of sugar in the American market," Bolsonaro said in the social media post. "It is the first result of recently opened Brazil-US talks regarding the sugar and ethanol sectors.” The Office of the US Trade Representative announced Sept. 11 that Brazil and the U.S. would embark on consultations for “an arrangement to improve market access for ethanol and sugar in Brazil and the United States.” Those discussions started Sept. 14.
- The cause of the mysterious mass death of some 330 elephants in Botswana several months ago has finally been determined. According to government officials, testing done on the carcasses showed signs of cyanobacteria, a naturally occurring toxin believed to have been present in the local water supply. The discovery debunks an earlier theory suggesting that the elephants were deliberately poisoned by humans, an explanation some people floated at the time of the deaths.