Ag Chat with Scott Schultz- January 15

The signing of a Phase I trade deal with China is set to happen today in Washington, D.C., but a farm trade organization and some legislators from both parties are calling for more transparency in the agreement. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and President Trump are expected to sign the agreement that Trump Administration officials say should increase agricultural and other goods being exported to China. However, details of the agreement have been kept as a secret. Farmers for Free Trade co-executive director Brian Kuehl said yesterday that he’s skeptical of Administration claims that the developing trade deal will provide a record $40 billion in agricultural sales – a skepticism he said was based on history and the fact that details of the agreement have been kept secret. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is among legislators calling for the agreement’s details to be revealed.

China has announced it will raise tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. products in retaliation for President Donald Trump's planned Sept. 1 duty increase in a war over trade and technology policy. (Photo source: DoD and Cutout photo source: Peru Ministry of Foreign Affairs / CC BY-SA 2.0 via MGN)

In a related matter, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer met Monday and Tuesday with Japanese and European Union trade representatives to discuss the potential for settling World Trade Organization disputes between the three nations and instead focus on dealing with illegal trade dealings practiced by China.
In yet another trade matter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the U.S. Senate likely will take the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to a vote this week, ahead of the Senate starting an impeachment trial for President Trump. The agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement that was scrapped by the president, has been sitting in the Senate since being passed Dec. 19 by the House of Representatives. House leadership and Trump Administration officials had negotiated specifics on the agreement before its House passage. McConnell said the impeachment trial likely would start on Tuesday.

Clark County has a new University of Wisconsin-Extension dairy and livestock agent, and he’s a familiar face around central Wisconsin. Matt Lippert, who also works as the Wood County UW-Extension agriculture, will be working half-time in the neighboring Clark County position. He has worked over the years with many dairy producers across north-central Wisconsin, and has gained years of practical experience by working on his family’s Pittsville-area dairy farm.