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Potato sales higher in Wisconsin

Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 7:05 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Chinese are buying American farm products again. After a lull in those purchases because of trade disputes and the Coronavirus, the Chinese have committed to buying over 23 and a half billion dollars worth of U.S. ag products in the first year of the U.S.-Chinese Trade Agreement. So far though, only about half that amount has been shipped and the Chinese are still way behind in their obligations to buy 33.4 billion worth of our ag products in this first year of that trade deal. Some of their purchases include a record $1.5 billion worth of U.S. pork and 8.7 million tons of U.S. corn, also a record.

A bipartisan coalition of 111 members of Congress has written a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative and the USDA demanding those agencies work harder for stronger protections for American made food and wine exports using common names. Third District Congressman Ron Kind is one of the main authors of that letter which says our government needs to take stronger actions against the European Union which wants to ban U.S. exports of cheese, wine, meat and wine products that carry common names like parmesan, bologna and chateau. The EU has been making trade deals with countries that say such products can’t be imported if they are not from Europe.

Continuing problems caused by the effects of the thousands of lawsuits it faces because of glyphosate herbicide, Bayer Ag is taking a write-down of almost $11 billion. That’s after the company said at the end of September they thought they could keep those losses in the single digit billions of dollars. But the lawsuits are now expected to cost Bayer about $2 billion, up from the 1 and a quarter billion they had estimated earlier. So far 88,500 of the 125,000 glyphosate claims have been agreed to and the company hopes to settle many more in the next few months.

Potato sales have been a bright spot in commodity news during the pandemic. According to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, total potato sales this past summer were up almost 14% in value and up almost 11% in volume. That’s the best they’ve been in both categories in the past 5 years. Frozen potato sales showed the biggest increases with sales jumps of 24% and volume increases of just under 20%.

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