MN02 Jason Lewis Talks to Farmers (Facts Optional)

Forget FarmFest where thousands of family farmers and agricultural businesses (and candidates for elective office) go every year … the place to go is to the Goodhue County Fair where attendees were able to hear Congressman Jason Lewis participate in a roundtable discussion (August 8th) featuring Naomi Kvittem, a dairy advocate from Zumbrota, former dairy and crop farmer Dick Nystuen from Kenyon Township and Brad Hovel, a pork, beef and soybeans producer from Cannon Falls township (and a recent host to a delegation of Chinese buyers).

Lewis told the crowd of about 25 people that the United States runs trade deficits in agriculture with many countries, and it can be hard to compete overseas when the input costs for farmers are so high due to environmental regulations in the U.S. vs. other countries.
“The tough one is China,” Lewis said. “About $25 billion in bean exports, and about half of that goes to China. So, we’ve got that big market … but they’ve got no other place to go for their beans, and the administration knows that.”

Congressman Lewis must be citing national exports. Soybeans are Minnesota’s number one exported value crop; Minnesota exported $2.1 billion worth of soybeans and soybean products in 2015. It is commonly stated that every other row of Minnesota soybeans is exported, with every fourth row of Minnesota soybeans going right to China.

it’s a big concern … but apparently not for Congressman Lewis who offered this interesting assessment … “they’ve got no other place to go for their beans” … well, news reports offer a different view

Soybean giant Brazil swoops on US crop as China trade war punctures prices

Who’s winning the US-China trade war? When it comes to soybeans, the answer is Brazil. The South American nation is capitalising on the strife caused by US President Donald Trump’s trade war to profit from both China and America in soybean trade.

US soybean prices have fallen by 20 per cent since April to their lowest price in nearly a decade, while the Brazilian crop is being sold at a premium, according to industry watchers.

US farmers are also worried about the upcoming harvest. Chinese buyers have accounted for just 17 per cent of all advanced purchases of the autumn US soybean crop, down from an average of 60 per cent over the past decade, according to Reuters.

China, which imports 60 per cent of the soybeans traded worldwide, bought 32.9 million tonnes from the US last year, accounting for 34 per cent of total purchases.

That total is forecast to drop by 6.8 million tonnes for the 2018/19 crop year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

China Buys Record Amount of Russian Soy as It Shuns U.S. Growers

China, the world’s biggest soybean importer, almost tripled purchases from Russia amid a trade dispute with the U.S., the biggest producer.

Russia sold about 850,000 metric tons of soybeans to China from the start of the 12-month season in July through mid-May, according to Russia’s agriculture agency Rosselkhoznadzor. That’s more than during any season before and compares with about 340,000 tons sold during all of the previous period, Chinese customs data show.

Gosh, it sure sounds like China has already been setting up deals with other countries … and every businessman knows losing a major customer can be devastating … but Congressman Lewis sure doesn’t sound worried.

Even as the #TrumpTariffs are taking a hit on soybean prices … as farmers are seeing new lows.

Soybean prices collapsed in June under the combined pressure of favorable U.S. growing conditions, an increase in sown acreage, large old-crop stocks, and China’s tariff hike on imports from the United States. Following China’s recent implementation of an additional 25-percent ad valorem tariff on U.S. soybeans, USDA lowered its 2018/19 export forecast by 250 million bushels this month to 2.04 billion. Lowered export expectations—along with a very bright outlook for soybean crop conditions and for estimated acreage harvested—lowered prices.

Even though the “United States runs trade deficits in agriculture with many countries”, he’s banking on President Trump to fix it.
Hmmm … an excellent word choice to use — “many” … and who else also likes to use the word “many” when talking about tariffs

Yep, … an excellent word choice to use — “many” , guess that depends upon your definition … some define “many” as a large but indefinite number bordering on countless.

Yet, if last week you ask the workers at a Harley Davidson plant if they could use the indefinite term “many” to describe the number of people losing their jobs, they could tell you the precise number — two of three shifts at the Kansas City plant are being eliminated. A third shift will continue to operate for a few more months. Harley-Davidson had announced that it was shifting some production overseas as a way to avoid new E.U. tariffs being imposed in response to the Trump tariffs. Harley-Davidson has said that Asia has become a fast-growing market for its bikes. Harley-Davidson announced that it would direct more than $700 million to a new plant in Thailand, with new products, such as an electric motorcycle, plus electronic commerce and a different look.

Sure wish someone had asked Congressman Lewis to state what countries that the US has an agricultural trade deficit … because they might be small in terms of the overall trade war … and be products that America does not produce in significant volumes (coffee, fruits and vegetables). For years, the United States has had a positive trade balance with the world … but Congressman Lewis may be correct — there might be “some” and it would be good to know which ones ’cause ya could probably count them on your hand. China is Minnesota’s top export market for soybeans, with significant exports to Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, and Taiwan.

When asked about the president’s promise to provide $12 billion in aid to farmers to offset the damage from the tariff wars, “The president has leeway to do that through commodity credit programs,” Lewis said. I think it’s the right thing to do at this particular juncture because as we’ve heard today, these folks here in the audience are willing to do what’s right for the country, what’s right for Minnesota in the short term, but they need some long-term help, and that’s the goal of this ‘art of the deal’ if you will.”

Surely listeners to the old Jason Lewis Show must remember when he would argue for decreased federal spending as a matter of government infringement upon individual liberty. “No matter how you finance big government spending – whether taxes, borrowing, or printing money – it all comes out of your pocket.”

$12 BILLION … and Congressman Lewis has no voice … instead becomes Trump’s puppet!
Could you imagine how many radio hours he would have used ranting on if a Democrat had planned to do what a Republican president is doing ?

Guess the good news is that Congressman Lewis is actually acknowledging the agricultural community … considering there is so “many” Minnesotans who are employed in it. In Minnesota, “many” can be defined based on the agricultural exports supporting more than over 57,000 jobs both on -farm and off-farm (source Minnesota Department of Agriculture).
And here’s any easy prediction … there will be “many” voters going to the polls on November 6th that will be responding to Lewis’s failure to protest Trump policies that are threatening Minnesota’s agricultural business.

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