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Perdue talks China, ad hoc disaster aid to NASDA

-The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture that over the past six weeks China has “really stepped up” its purchases of U.S. agricultural products, and that the Chinese leaders are “saying all the right things to fulfill their commitments” under the phase one trade deal.

Perdue made the comments in a video conference during the NASDA annual meeting, which is being held online.

Perdue said U.S. officials were “concerned” last spring when China was buying soybeans from Brazil, but that turned out to be a part of the usual agricultural marketing year because Brazilian soybeans are available at that time and Brazil cannot store soybeans as well as the United States can.

“I think we will own that market until next January,” Perdue said. He noted that the Chinese are rebuilding their swine herd and need feed.

He also said that “technically underneath all the numbers they really did a fairly honest job in trying to resolve these nontariff technical glitches.” The situation is “not perfect but on a good run,” he said.

Despite the “tragedy” of the derecho windstorm in Iowa and the hurricane in Lousiana, he added, “it looks like we are going to need a strong export run.”

Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain told Perdue that Hurricane Laura has led to “herds of cattle no longer there,” one third of the rice crop gone, and water in the sugar cane fields, and asked if he expects an ad hoc disaster bill.

Perdue said that only Congress could answer the question of ad hoc disaster aid, but that he would not be surprised if there is a bill and that USDA is “calculating” what resources might be needed to address the situation.

Perdue also said that it was a mistake for the WHIP Plus rule not to include an “end time.”

Pennsylvania Agriculture Commissioner Russell Redding thanked Perdue for extending the flexibilities for school meals programs and Perdue said it has been a “thrill” to see the distribution of food to the needy amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Growing and producing food is “a noble business,” Perdue said.


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