05-14-18 President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Scott Stump of Colorado, to be Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education.

Mr. Stump is the Chief Operating Officer for Vivayic, Inc., a learning solutions company based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Previously, he served as the Assistant Provost for Career and Technical Education with the Colorado Community College System. In 2014, Mr. Stump served as President of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium, now called Advance CTE. Mr. Stump holds a B.S. in Agricultural Education from Purdue University.

Gordon Hartogensis of Connecticut, to be Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation at the Department of Labor.

Mr. Hartogensis is an investor and technology sector leader with experience managing financial equities, bonds, private placements, and software development. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University and an M.S. in Technology Management from Columbia University. Continue reading

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 14th

House Will Take Up Farm Bill This Week 

Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, says Congress will take up the farm bill debate sometime within the week. The House schedule has the week’s session running from Tuesday through Friday. The House Rules Committee has issued a notice that it expects to “grant a rule that may provide a structured amendment process for floor consideration of H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.” The Hagstrom Report says it’s not clear yet if Republicans have the required 215 Republican votes they’ll need to pass the bill. House Democrats say no Democrat will vote for the bill because of the changes it would make to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. After a meeting with President Trump at the White House on Thursday, House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway says he still doesn’t have the votes needed to pass the bill but will spend the weekend trying to convince more Republicans to vote for the bill. “We believe we’ll get there,” Conway says. “We’ve got several folks that are still reading the bill and coming to their own conclusions. We’ve got a lot of undecideds. I’ll be working with them over the weekend to get them where they need to be and provide them with the information they need to understand exactly what the bill does.”


Cotton Group Wants House Farm Bill Passed

The National Cotton Council is asking the House of Representatives to approve the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 and to do so without any amendments that could potentially damage farm policy. NCC Chair Ron Craft says the legislation contains critically important policies for cotton producers, as well as the entire U.S. cotton industry. He adds that even though budget constraints meant not all of the cotton industry’s priorities were included in the bill, the Ag Committee should be commended for the work it did. “Cotton producers rely on the certainty and predictability of farm law to obtain the financing necessary for capital investments and annual crop production,” he says. “Without strong commodity and crop insurance policies as a foundation for U.S. agriculture, lenders would be hesitant to provide financing to an industry that’s operating at the mercy of weather extremes and volatile global markets.” Craft says the current trade tensions further emphasize the need for having a strong and predictable farm policy. The nation’s 20,000 cotton farms and other cotton businesses generate more than $21 billion in annual revenue.  


NAFTA Clock Is Ticking

The Trump Administration is working against the clock to get the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations done in time for a vote during this year’s December session of Congress. If the Administration wants a vote this year, the deadline is this Thursday, May 17. Politico says Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s deadline makes it uncertain whether or not the NAFTA nation’s top trade negotiators will be able to push that new deal across the finish line because a number of unresolved issues are still on the table. Ryan also says the “promise of a deal won’t do.” He wants it on paper from the U.S. Trade Representative by May 17 for a vote this year. U.S., Canadian, and Mexican trade ministers have been meeting for the last four consecutive days as they try to iron out differences. Much of the recent discussions have centered on the automotive rules of origin issue. Some of the other complicated issues to deal with include the seasonal produce proposal, investor-state dispute settlement, and market access for dairy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer tells lawmakers he’s taking steps to tackle Canada’s milk pricing program, which American dairy farmers want killed in NAFTA 2.0.


Agriculture Prominent in U.S. and China Discussions

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave testimony to a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday, during which trade with China was a key topic. Channel News Asia Dot Com says Ross hopes to reduce the differences between the two countries, in which hundreds of billions of dollars in commerce are at stake in a trade war. Ross led a delegation to Beijing last week to begin the effort to iron out those differences. He told the congressional subcommittee Thursday that “the differences are large.” A Chinese delegation will be in Washington D.C. during the week. Ross says U.S. officials presented a list of requested changes in China’s trade policies, going “product by product and quantity by quantity.” Agricultural goods featured prominently in the discussions. China responded with their own trade requests. Ross says President Trump has asked the Ag Department to figure out ways to help minimize the impact of Chinese tariffs going into effect on American agricultural products. “We’re well aware that it’s unfair to ask one industry to bear the brunt of retaliation to help other parts of the economy,” Ross says. “We’ll do our level best to resolve that problem.”


St. Louis Fed Survey Shows Farm Income Down Once Again

Farm income declined in the first quarter of 2018, the 17th-consecutive quarter of lower income numbers. The latest Agricultural Finance Monitor, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, shows quality farmland values and cash rents were also slightly lower than in 217. The St. Louis Fed surveyed 24 agricultural banks in the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which includes several Midwest and Mid-South States. The majority of the bankers reported income declines compared to a year ago. Quality farmland values were 1.4 percent lower than in the first quarter of last year. That’s the first decline since the second quarter of 2017. Ranchland or pastureland values rose sharply for the second consecutive quarter. In similar fashion, cash rents for quality farmland dropped slightly in the first quarter of this year when compared to 2017. Cash rents for pastureland or ranchland increased. Other questions in the survey included the number of farmers using off-farm income to maintain cash flow. 41 percent of the banks said that 25 percent of their farmer-customers had off-farm income. More than half of the banks said that a quarter of their farmer-clients were in severe financial difficulty.


Fordyce Named FSA Administrator

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that Richard Fordyce (FOHR-dice) is the new Administrator of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Fordyce takes over the leadership role for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of 2,100 county and 50 state offices. “As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” says Secretary Perdue, “and I’m confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most effective, efficient, customer-focused agency in the federal government.” Fordyce most recently served as the State Executive Director of the Missouri Farm Service Agency office. Prior to that, Fordyce served as the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. In 2015, Fordyce won the Missouri Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and the Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Alumnus of the Year. He and his wife, Renee, have two children and grow soybeans, corn and beef cattle on the family farm.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service