ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Phase I of the U.S. trade deal with China was signed yesterday by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The deal, which Trump Administration officials eventually will create about $40 billion in Chinese purchases of U.S. ag products over two years, is part of ongoing trade negotiations between the nations. Hopes are for it to ease the continuing tariff war between the countries. U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue called the agreement “a bonanza” for American agriculture. Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Joe Bragger of Independence was among national farm leaders who attended the signing ceremony.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal also moved ahead yesterday, with ratification votes in the Senate’s Commerce, Appropriations, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees. Those votes round out the committees that had to approve the agreement before it goes to a full Senate vote, and that vote could come today. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in those committees to move the agreement forward, and said she will vote for its ratification in the full Senate vote.
Soybean production in Brazil, one of the greatest competitors for the U.S. soybean-export market, has a better-than-expected production estimate for the 2019-2020 growing season. The ag consulting agency AgRural has estimated the crop to be 123.9 million metric tons, a 1.4 percent increase compared with estimate compared with the firm’s December estimate. The Brazilian national crop agency also said adequate rain has increased yields by 4 percent. Estimates are that Brazilian farmers increased plantings by 1.6 percent this growing season, to 36.4 million hectare acres.
Buy-local farm and food-industry groups are being invited to apply for Wisconsin’s 2020 Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grants. The grants, administered by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, are designed to help buy-local farmers and groups increase their markets. There is $300,000 available for grants, with individual grants of up to $50,000 available. The grants are 50 percent cash or in-kind matching grants. Information about applying is available through the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.