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January 2019, Volume 25, Number 1

US: Farm Bill, Trade

Congress approved the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 that is expected to cost $867 billion over 10 years in December 2018 that does not include federal requirements that more able-bodied recipients must work for their benefits. About 80 percent of farm bill spending is for food subsidies for poorer Americans.

Food Stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) gives credit-card stored value cards to poor families, allowing 40 million Americans to obtain food with government monies. Work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) aged 18 to 49 are required to work at least 20 hours a week after three months to maintain their SNAP benefits. Trump wanted to expand the age range of those required to work to 59, and require those with children under six to work or participate in job training.

USDA in December 2018 proposed tighter regulations on ABAWDs, restricting the ability of states to receive waivers from the work-rule when unemployment is high.

Pork. China processes 1.1 billion pigs a year to feed 1.4 billion people who eat an average 87 pounds of pork a year, more than the US average of 51 pounds. The EU has 415 million hogs, the US 206 million, and Brazil about 80 million.

China imported $3.6 billion worth of pork in 2017, including almost a third from the US. Chinese tariffs of 25 percent on US pork have allowed competing exporters, including Spain, Germany and Canada, to expand their presence in China.

Research. Dutch Wageningen University was named the best agricultural university for the third year in a row. University of California-Davis, which was the named best between 2012 and 2015, was second, followed by Cornell, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and University of California-Berkeley.