Issue Update

On September 17, President Trump’s administration announced it will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China effective September 24. These tariffs would rise to 25% on January 1, 2019. Almost all paper, paperboard and converted products imported from China are covered on the tariff list. In response, China said it will impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion on September 24. Previously, China stated that these tariffs would apply to most paper, wood products and logs.

The AG LWA (H.R. 6417) has grown to 110 co-sponsors. House leadership is wary of bringing the legislation forward to vote however, as they are cautious of losing another vote on this legislation that had failed two times prior. FRA and the AG LWA coalition will continue to work this issue through September in an effort to convince leadership to bring the legislation to a floor vote. We have been told that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue is reaching out to House leadership imploring them to take the bill up early next week. The House is expected to recess late next week to allow Members to go home and campaign ahead of the November midterm election.  

On September 7, the Department of Labor (DOL) sent a “proposed rule” to the Office of Management and Budget titled “Modernizing Recruitment Requirements Under the H-2B Program”. The content of the proposal will not be available to the public until published in the Federal Register. In addition, the DOL also published in the Federal Register an announcement that it is revising the current H-2B application form at DOL. The specific language mentioned in the new form could pose some challenges for forestry as it may require listing each work site and the applicable wage at that site.  This would require additional work for employers of itinerant workers, like forestry, as work crews move from location to location on a frequent basis. FRA will be reviewing and providing comment on the new regulations.

The Farm Bill is moving slowly as Senate and House conference committee leaders struggle to reach an agreement on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Although optimism was expressed by committee members in opening remarks to pass a Farm Bill in September, it appears to be waning. It is becoming less likely that a “new” Farm Bill will be passed prior to the current one’s expiration on September 30, 2018. Conference committee leaders are now signaling that they hope to finalize a conference report in December.   

Please join us for FRA’s upcoming policy webinar on Wednesday, September 26, 2:00-2:45 PM ET. FRA staff will provide you with the latest updates on the mid-term elections and FRA policy priorities. You can join the webinar at https://zoom.us/j/232224245. For Audio: Dial: +1 669 900 6833  or +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 232 224 245.
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