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Ag Report: Farmers are "casualties of the trade war," chicken industry under investigation, and farmers vs. high-speed rail

U.S. President Trump Visits China
Posted at 8:14 AM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 16:18:14-04

Many industries are still hurting from President Donald Trump's trade war. And Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says American farmers "are casualties of the trade war."

Farmers have felt the brunt of it with tariffs driving down their crop prices. Farm bankruptcies were up 20% last year, the highest in almost a decade.

The president is headed to the G-20 summit in Japan this week where he'll meet with China's president to try and get trade talks back on track after a deal fell apart last month. Perdue says that he doesn't think a deal will be reached at the summit, but it could be the beginning of getting serious about negotiations.

The G-20 summit is scheduled to start Thursday in Osaka.

Chicken Production
Chicken breasts get sorted.

The U.S. government is investigating the chicken industry. It's an effort to intervene in a price-fixing lawsuit brought against the country's biggest poultry producers, including Tyson, Sanderson, and Perdue.

The case was brought by a New York foodservice distributor, Maplevale Farms in 2016. According to its complaint, Maplevale claims 28 chicken companies "conspired and combined to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize the price of broilers." Broilers are the predominant type of chickens raised for production in the U.S.

Maplevale alleges the chicken producers coordinated their output and limited chicken production with the intent to raise prices. Walmart joined the fray last month, suing many of the same poultry producers.

CA High-Speed Rail Project
Construction of the Muscat Avenue Viaduct seen west of State Route 99, just east of Cedar Avenue on July 13, 2017 in Fresno, California. the high speed train is supposed to run between SF and Anaheim at a cost of $64 billion.

In other ag news, valley growers have more complaints about high-speed rail. Many are claiming the agency is failing to compensate them for changes they've been forced to make to their properties.

The high-speed rail project is behind schedule, but still moving through downtown Fresno and into area farms. The line, as proposed, takes some farmland, and divides many more.

Growers say the divisions are costing them money and they claim they aren't being paid for it. Republican Assemblymember Jim Patterson of Fresno claims this pattern of putting off paying farmers and businesses is a big problem.

"We have tried to convince high speed rail they are essentially stiffing people and high speed rail is simply ignoring it," said Patterson. The high-speed rail officials said in part "we work closely with them to minimize the impact the project has on them and their livelihoods."

The authority also says property owners have been paid more than 10 million dollars for relocation expenses and 80 percent have been settled out of court.