Tag Archives: President Trump

The Trump administration today announced plans to lift the 25% tariff on steel and the 10% duty on aluminum imports imposed last year on Canada and Mexico. Both countries subsequently retaliated against a host of U.S. products.

“We thank the administration for ending a trade dispute that has placed enormous financial strain on American pork producers,” said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “Mexico’s 20% retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork has cost our producers $12 per animal, or $1.5 billion on an annualized, industry-wide basis. Removing the metal tariffs restores zero-tariff trade to U.S. pork’s largest export market and allows NPPC to focus more resources on working toward ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which preserves zero-tariff trade for U.S. pork in North America.”

Last year, Canada and Mexico took over 40% of the pork that was exported from the United States. NPPC has designated USMCA ratification as a “key vote” and will closely monitor support of the agreement among members of Congress. U.S. pork exports to Mexico and Canada support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are also hopeful that the end of this dispute allows more focus on the quick completion of a trade deal with Japan,” Herring added. “U.S. pork is losing market in its largest value market to international competitors that have recently implemented new trade agreements with Japan.”

According to Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, U.S. pork will see exports to Japan grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the U.S. quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall commented on President Trump’s immigration proposal saying,

“Farm Bureau welcomes President Trump’s focus on fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. However, nowhere is reform more critical than in the agricultural sector. Labor shortages now are being felt by farmers and ranchers across the country, in dairy, fruits and vegetables, mushroom, livestock and other sectors. We will not relent in our fight to ensure that a solution to our agricultural labor needs is included in any immigration reform package.

“Farm Bureau economists issued two detailed studies of this problem over the last decade. In the more recent report, in 2014, looking at potential losses in vegetable, livestock, fruit and grain production, estimated losses range as high as $60 billion. A reformed agricultural guest worker program that is flexible and affordable for farmers, fair to workers and effective in meeting the needs of all producers is critical. We also need to provide current workers the opportunity to earn legal status. These workers are essential to our nation’s food production.

“This is a difficult issue and there are no easy solutions. We applaud the Administration and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are tackling the problem. We look forward to working with them to advance solutions that allow us to continue growing our food within our borders.”

Trade officials from China are in Washington, DC this week as the Trump administration places further pressure on China to reach an agreement with the United States.

Trump will increase tariffs on China Friday, saying talks between the two nations are going too slowly. On Twitter, Trump states he will increase tariffs on $200 billion of goods from 10 to 25 percent. Trade organization Tariffs Hurt the Heartland says the move would cost nearly one million American jobs, and “increase the likelihood of retaliation on American farmers.” China and the U.S. meet this week in what was expected to be the final round of formal talks.

Trump is expected to host his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in June, with the expectation the two would sign an agreement. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday the negotiations held so far between the two sides have achieved positive progress, adding, China hopes the U.S. will work to “meet each other halfway and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Is white bread about to make a comeback on school lunch menus?

After complaints about taste and costs, the Trump administration rolled back a rule that required foods like pasta and bread be made with whole grains. The cafeteria directors who lobbied for the change say they just want greater flexibility to serve foods like white bread — which are more processed and have less fiber — when whole grains don’t work.

In Vermont, the relaxed rule means white rice will be served with beans again. In Oregon, macaroni and cheese may return. And in South Dakota, students may notice a change with their soup.

“The staff asked right away, ‘Oh my God, can we go back to the other saltines?'” said Gay Anderson, a school lunch director and president of the School Nutrition Association, which represents cafeteria operators and suppliers like Domino’s and Kellogg.

The rollback addresses rules on grains, milk and saltchampioned by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Since 2014, schools had been required to serve only whole grain versions of food as part of the national school lunch program, a critical source of free and reduced-price meals for millions of children. The idea is that whole grains would be more nourishing and help cultivate healthy habits amid alarming obesity rates .

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is among the parties suing over the rollback, notes the standards were based on the government’s own dietary guidelines and that most schools were successfully meeting them.

But cafeteria operators said costs were higher, cooking was more difficult and students were throwing away more food. The School Nutrition Association said it’s more important that children who rely on the lunches eat something, and that the rule ignored cultural preferences, such as for flour tortillas in the Southwest or for white rice among Asian students.

To ease the transition to whole grains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture let schools apply for temporary waivers to serve select dishes that didn’t meet the whole-grain rule. For the last school year, it said about 20 percent of districts asked permission to serve refined grains that are enriched to add back some nutrients.

Among the frequently waived foods were pasta , pizza , tortillasand biscuits , which one Georgia lunch official joked affects the “tests scores of rednecks ,” according to records obtained by The Associated Press from state agencies. Other waived foods included beignets, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, sugar cookies and Pop Tarts.

One district requested a waiver for croissants because it said students don’t like the whole-grain version.

“Plus they are 20 cents more per serving,” the district said.

Then in December, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the USDA was going back to the old standard: At least half of grain foods must be rich in whole grains. The agency said that does away with the red tape of making schools get waivers, and gives schools more flexibility to offer wholesome meals that also reduce food waste.

Whitney Ellersick, a school lunch director in Portland, Oregon, said the change means her district will no longer need a waiver for its lasagna. But she was surprised by the extent of the rollback.

“I was a little shocked to see it go to 50 percent,” Ellersick said.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the USDA’s rollback may be halting progress made by schools, which could be tempted to bring back more refined grains that cost less or are easier to make. Already, the group notes the USDA defines “whole grain rich” as being half whole grain, meaning there’s built-in wiggle room to make bread and pasta students won’t mind.

Bettina Elias Siegel of The Lunch Tray website also noted a recent USDA report that found that “plate waste” was comparable before and after the rules were implemented in 2014, undermining arguments they were prompting students to throw away more food.

The report also found that students took advantage of lunches more often in schools with healthier lunches.

The American Heart Association likewise criticized the decision to relax the rules and called on school districts to stick to the previous standards, which also included stricter rules on salt and milk. Among the districts that plan to do so is Boston, where fifth grader Trinity Wilson likes the brown rice.

She said it’s is healthier than white rice. “I know that because my mom told me,” Wilson said.

But some school lunch officials say the rollback could help smaller districts that don’t have access to as many products. In Arkansas, students in the Magnet Cove district accepted whole-grain Pop Tarts and other changes, officials say, but still prefer the old noodles, biscuits and rolls.

“They’re tastier, softer and fluffier,” said Danny Thomas, the district’s superintendent.

In Burlington, Vermont, white rice and beans can return to menus. Doug Davis, the district’s food director and incoming president of the School Nutrition Association, said it’s a healthy dish that students will actually eat.

To avoid buying two types of rice, Davis said white rice will likely also be used in stir fries and soups. He plans to stick mostly to whole grains, but he appreciates not having to.

Whole-grain pasta isn’t ideal for mac and cheese, Davis noted.

“Would we make a change on that? I don’t know,” he said.

The U.S. and Japan are meeting again to wrap up the week in the second round of trade talks. Japan’s Economy Minister is meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  plans to meet President Donald Trump today (Friday) in Washington. The negotiations continue to focus on reaching a quick agreement on agriculture and automobiles. The U.S. wants better access to Japan’s agricultural products market, as trade agreements between Japan and other nations have made products from other countries more lucrative to Japanese buyers.

Nearly 100 farm groups sent a letter to Lighthizer this week outlining the market loss U.S. producers are facing from competing trade agreements, including the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, the agreement Trump removed the U.S. from upon taking office. Just last week, the U.S. and Japan agreed to accelerate trade talks to reach a fast agreement.