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July 2022, Volume 28, Number 3

US Ag, Trade

The US is expected to export a record $190 billion worth of farm commodities in 2021; US farm imports are expected to be worth $180 billion. Feed grains such as corn are expected to be a quarter of US farm exports, oilseeds such as soybeans another quarter, livestock, poultry, and meat another quarter, and horticultural products the final quarter. US horticultural exports include a quarter tree nuts such as almonds.

Half of US farm imports are horticultural products, led by $15 billion worth of fresh fruit and $11 billion worth of fresh vegetables for a total of $26 billion. The US imports almost $25 billion worth of beer, wine and spirits, and almost $25 billion worth of livestock, poultry, and meat as well as $25 billion worth of coffee, cocoa, sugar, and other tropical products. Mexico is expected to export $36 billion worth of farm commodities to the US in 2021, 20 percent of US farm imports, followed by $17 billion in farm imports from Canada.

Land. Conservation easements, promises not to develop land in exchange for tax breaks, are proliferating to fulfill the Biden Administration’s 30x30 plan, which aims to conserve 30 percent of US land by 2030. The Land Trust Alliance estimates that 61 million acres were conserved via easements, outright purchases and transfers to state agencies in 2022; reaching the 30 percent goal would require over 500 million acres to be conserved.

Two-thirds of current conserved land is covered by conservation easements, which provide tax breaks in exchange for pledges not to develop the land.

Fish. Many governments, including China, Russia, and some in the EU, subsidize their fishing fleets, while others, including many in Africa and Asia, allow foreigners to fish in their coastal waters in exchange for a fee. Subsidies to the fishing sector worldwide are estimated at over $22 billion a year, including $6 billion from the Chinese government to its fishing sector.

The 164-member World Trade Organization is trying to reduce subsidies for the fishing sector in order to preserve fish stocks. Advocates of reduced subsidies note that subsidized fishing fleets have incentives to fish off the coast of poorer countries and on the high seas, depleting fish stocks.

Germany’s Bayer bought Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018 and inherited 138,000 lawsuits alleging that Roundup causes cancer. Some 107,000 claims had been resolved by June 2022, when the US Supreme Court declined Bayer’s appeal of a California verdict that awarded $25 million to a plaintiff who blamed Roundup for his cancer. Bayer says that Roundup is safe and continues to sell it, but now faces more suits those who allege Roundup injured them.

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