ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)- Despite increasing talk of trade wars with China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, our farm exports this fiscal year are looking good. Latest estimates show those sales should be as high as $142 billion. That would the second best year ever for U.S. agricultural exports. And there are a number of reasons for that increase. First, most of those sales were made before trade tensions heated up. But the increases are also the result of better economic conditions in many parts of the world-smaller crops in some parts of the world because of weather conditions and the world knows U.S. products mean consistent quality. With our agricultural imports projected at $118 billion this year, that would leave us with a positive balance of trade in agriculture of $24 billion.
Photo: Andy Pernick / MGN
But the exporting year isn't over yet and things look like they will be changing soon. Chinese officials say they plan to cancel orders for the remaining shipments of soybeans they have bought from the U.S. this year. That will happen tomorrow in response to the U.S. tariffs that have been put on Chinese products coming to the United States. U.S. officials say that amounts to about 1.14 million metric tons of soybeans-a small part of the 97 million metric tons they had planned to buy from us this year. That move will leave China with a supply deficit for their crushing plants as the U.S. is the only country with enough supply this time of the year to supply those plants. But plant operators say if they buy U.S. soybeans with a 25% tariff they will lose too much money to keep plants operating.
Following his landslide election this past weekend, Mexico's new President, leftist leaning Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said he is going to respect his country's current negotiators for the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also said he would soon appoint some of his own people to get involved when the talks re-convene. Obrador said he wants to keep Mexico in NAFTA and hopes to have frank but friendly talks with U.S. officials very soon.
The expanded list of U.S. products hit with Canadian tariffs now include beef, whiskey and agricultural chemicals. The tariffs total over 12 and a half billion dollars and will range from 10 to 25%. The breakdown of the tariffs show $170 million worth of U.S. beef will be targeted. The U.S. beef industry and others across the country are upset because President Trump's tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are against an industry that we have a $2 billion trade surplus with.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has made it official. This past Friday he issued a proposal to make it clear that the Trump Administration intends to repeal President Obama's Waters of the USA rules. That would mean we go back to the pre-2015 rules while the administration works on new rules. Pruitt said there will be a public comment period that will let people have more time to give the administration feedback on what a new plan should look like.
It's getting to be fair season. And while the first big fair in this area will be the Northern Wisconsin State fair in Chippewa Falls, smaller fairs are also getting underway. Starting tomorrow and running through Sunday will be the annual Gilmanton Free Fair.