Washington Week Ahead: USTR discusses Chinese policy, Biden agenda is in doubt | 2021-10-03

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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is expected to deliver a speech on Monday on the Biden administration’s approach to U.S.-China trade, an issue that has fallen to the back of the national agenda that the president is struggling to tackle. to pass to Congress.

Also on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce details of a loan guarantee program aimed at expanding meat processing capacity and reducing the impact of plant disruptions that are pushing down prices of livestock and are causing retail meat prices to skyrocket.

Biden’s top priorities in Congress have been called into question after Democratic House leaders overturned a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday. The decision to postpone the vote came after Biden met with the Democratic caucus on Friday and sided with the progressives in tying the passage of the infrastructure bill to the approval of his biggest Build Back Better package. social spending and climate policy.

Congress subsequently passed a 30-day extension of federal highway programs, which effectively relieved pressure on lawmakers to complete the infrastructure bill, which included a reauthorization of highway programs. Authorization for the programs expired Thursday with the end of the federal fiscal year.

The House has no further votes scheduled until the week of October 18, but Biden insisted to reporters on Saturday that the two bills can still pass, though he declined to offer a timeline .

“I know how the legislation is made. There is no reason why these two bills cannot be passed independently, except that there are no votes to do it that way. It’s a simple proposition, ”Biden said. He was referring to the fact that many House progressives refused to support the Senate infrastructure bill until they were satisfied that the larger budget reconciliation bill would become law.

Farm groups will eagerly follow Tai’s speech on Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for clues as to how Biden will approach China on trade. So far, Biden has chosen to leave in place the tariffs then-President Donald Trump imposed on China.

In August, the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farming and business groups signed a letter that the letter from the US-China Business Council sent to Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking them to take “action. fast to fight expensive and heavy tariffs and retaliation. tariffs ”and ensure that Trump’s“ phase one ”trade deal with China is fully implemented. China has pledged to purchase $ 80 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products in 2020 and 2021.

Several commodity groups will also be listening to Tai’s assurances that the administration will use the World Trade Organization to force China to lower its trade barriers and reform its subsidy system.

Later, Tai will travel to Paris for climate policy meetings with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Tuesday and Wednesday. The theme of the meeting is “Shared Values: Building a Green and Inclusive Future”.

She will chair an OECD session on Wednesday called “Promoting Trade for All” on Wednesday and will also hold discussions on the World Trade Organization and US-European relations.

The loan guarantee program that Vilsack announced on Monday is “aimed at increasing meat and poultry processing capacity and addressing food supply chain bottlenecks created by the pandemic,” according to one. USDA media advisory.

The White House released a report in September accusing the consolidation of the meat industry of being responsible for the increase in retail meat prices. “The reality today is that farmers are losing money on the livestock, pigs and poultry they sell, at a time when consumers are seeing higher prices at the grocery store…. the fact that there are now record or near record profits for those in the middle, “Vilsack said at a White House event.

The four biggest meat packers – Tyson, JBS, National Beef (owned by Leucadia) and Cargill – control between 80% and 90% of the feeder slaughter market, according to the North American Meat Institute.

Building new meat processing plants is expensive. Kansas State University economist Glynn Tonsor says beef packing facilities cost about $ 100,000 per head of capacity to build.

Here is a list of agriculture or rural related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday October 4

10 a.m. – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai speaks on U.S.-China trade policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

4:00 p.m. – USDA releases weekly crop progress report.

Tuesday, October 5

1:00 p.m. – Consumer Federation of America’s National Virtual Food Policy Conference.

Wednesday October 6

11:00 am – House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing, “Emerging Contaminants, Chemicals Forever and More: Challenges to Water Quality, Public Health and Communities,” 2167 Rayburn.

1 p.m. – FCA National Food Policy Conference.

2:30 p.m. – Hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the State and Management of Drought in the West, 366 Dirksen.

Thursday October 7

8:30 a.m. – USDA releases weekly report on export sales.

Noon – House Agriculture Committee hearing on the Livestock Industry, 1300 Longworth.

Noon – Center for American Progress Forum, “Climate Change and the Justice System”.

Friday October 8

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