Grassley and Ag Reject Japan’s TPP Offer

grassley-headSenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took time between votes today to join with several agricultural organizations and voice strong opposition to Japan’s negotiating position in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership to exclude a number of agricultural products as part of a final agreement.

“Japan seems to believe that they’re entitled to keep five sacred agriculture products off the table,” said Grassley, who said he just spoke with US Trade Representative Michael Froman this morning about the issue, stressing that when Japan agreed to join the negotiations they knew everything had to be on the table. “We’ve got to hold their feet to the fire.”

“The third largest country in the world can’t make protectionist moves like that without it having a ripple effect,” he added.

The five broad agricultural product categories that Japan wants to exempt from the TPP agreement are pork and beef, wheat and barley, rice and starch, dairy, and sugar. Participating in a conference call with Grassley today were representatives from the National Pork Producers Council,
American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, and the National Association of Wheat Growers Association. All of them and more are strongly urging the administration to reject Japan’s offer.

Listen to the press conference here: Ag Groups Reject Japan's TPP Offer

North American Meat Unhappy With Farm Bill

ippe-14-namaMembers of the North American Meat Association (NAMA) here at the International Production and Processing Expo are disappointed to see that Congress is likely to pass a farm bill this week with no changes to the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law being challenged in the World Trade Organization by Mexico and Canada.

“It needs to be fixed and Congress had a perfect opportunity to do that,” said CEO Barry Carpenter. “We clearly need the WTO to expedite their process … this is not the way we should be doing business in the United States.”

The “other NAMA” represents members in both Mexico and Canada. “Canada and Mexico are our two biggest trading partners,” said Carpenter. “Why are we doing this?”

A WTO hearing on the issue is expected to be held next month.

Listen to my interview with Barry at IPPE here: Barry Carpenter, North American Meat Association

International Production and Processing Expo Photos

Sponsored by Novus International Inc

Farm Bill Could Draw Trade Retaliation

nppc_logoLivestock organizations and food associations are concerned that their members will face economic harm because the farm bill out of conference committee this week makes no changes to the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling law (COOL).

Canada and Mexico filed a complaint over the law with the World Trade Organization, which is expected to rule on it next month. If the WTO rules against the United States, Canada and Mexico are set to place retaliatory tariffs on dozens of U.S. products – including beef, pork, furniture and bakery goods.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George, National Association of Manufacturers director of international trade policy Jessica Lemos, and National Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk held a media conference call on Tuesday to discuss their concerns. Opening comments

“The released bill is a slap in the face of every livestock producer in the country,” said George, a cattle producer from Wyoming.

“If Country of Origin labeling isn’t fixed, and the farm bill is the best vehicle to do that, pork producers like me will suffer and so will dozens of other U.S. businesses,” said Spronk of Minnesota.

Lemos added that a variety of industries will be impacted if Mexico and Canada retaliates over the labeling law. “That is simply an unacceptable outcome,” she said.

Listen to or download complete call here: NCBA-NPPC Media Call

Argentina’s Export Tariffs

ifaj13-rbotDuring the IFAJ Congress, I was very surprised to learn that Argentina has export tariffs on a number of agricultural commodities, including corn and soybeans. I understand import tariffs, but export tariffs would seem to do nothing but hurt a country’s agricultural industry.

“Argentina has export taxes on almost every product that we export, but in the case of grain the taxes are really high,” said Patricia Bergero, who is an economist with the Rosario Board of Trade (Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario). By really high, she means REALLY high, especially for soybeans, which have a 35% tariff while soybean meal and oil exports are taxed at 53%. Corn and wheat are taxed at 23 to 35%. “This kind of tax is really a burden for farmers when we are facing lower prices,” she said. No kidding!

Despite the high taxes, Patricia says Argentina exports continue to boom. “In the case of corn, depending on the market year, Argentina has 20% of the market share of the world,” she said. “In the case of soybean meal and soybean oil, definitely Argentina is a leader because they have a share of 55% of the world trade.” For soybeans as a raw product, Argentina’s market share is about 15-25%.

Patricia says the export taxes have not always been so high, just since the early 2000s and farmers would definitely like to see them lowered. Early this summer, farmers actually went on strike to protest the high taxes.

Patricia was really a wealth of information about Argentina’s agricultural industry – from exports and GMOs to the nation’s policies on renewable fuels. Listen to my conversation with her here: Interview with Patricia Bergero, Rosario Board of Trade

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by Novus International and Dupont Pioneer

Selling House Water Bill on Social Media

shusterThe chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is using social media to promote the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA) introduced last week by the committee.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) narrates a whiteboard-doodled YouTube video on why the legislation to improve our nation’s waterway infrastructure “matters to every American, the Nation’s economy, jobs, and our ability to remain globally competitive.” The issue is especially important to farmers who have been asking Congress to improve the outdated locks and dams on transportation waterways for years.

Tomorrow (September 17), Shuster will be answering questions about the bill via Twitter from the Committee’s Twitter account (@Transport). To submit questions, use the hashtag #WRRDA.

It’s refreshing to see Congress get creative when it comes to using social media!

Farm Foundation Leads Talk on Trade

farmfoundationlogo3As the United States and the European Union open negotiations on trade, our friends at Farm Foundation will be hosting a forum on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The session, next Wednesday, July 17th at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will focus on food and ag issues, especially tariffs, tariff-rated quotas and non-tariff barriers across multiple sectors.

Moderating the discussions will be J.B. Penn of Deere & Company, a Trustee of Farm Foundation, a member of the Board of IPC and a former USDA under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Presenting perspectives on TTIP will be:

Sue Taylor of Leprino Foods Company, discussing dairy industry priorities.
Matt O’Mara of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, discussing his industry’s vision of trans-Atlantic trade.
William Kerr of the University of Saskatchewan, who will outline the approaches of the United States and European Union to geographical indications (GI), the practice of using a name to imply specific qualities related to the product’s geographic origin.
Craig Thorn of DTB Associates, LLP, will discuss U.S. industry views of GI.
David Biltchik, consultant to the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, will discuss the European objectives for GI.

After short presentations by each of the speakers, the floor will be opened for discussion.

The session is free, and if you can’t attend in person, you can view the webinar here. Registration information is also available through that website.

Corn Growers Provide Trade Negotiation Advice

During a House Committee on Small Business hearing this week in Washington, National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson provided policy recommendations for the U.S. Trade Representative on growing export opportunities, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

pam-ttip“Agricultural producers succeed when industry and government work side-by-side,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said during her testimony. “It is critical that U.S. negotiators have an appreciation for how increasing exports translates into benefits for family farmers. The U.S. economy will not benefit from agriculture issues being placed on a ‘to do’ list. Now is the perfect time to eliminate long standing barriers to agricultural exports and promote policies that bring economic opportunity back to rural America.”

Johnson stressed the importance of dealing with trade barriers to genetically modified crops. “For NCGA members, the biggest challenge is the approval of corn and corn products that are derived through biotechnology,” she said. “Unjustified regulations are costing family farmers millions in lost sales to the EU and could result in even great losses of U.S. exports if they are adopted by other countries.”

The main point Johnson said the corn growers want to get across to USTR in these trade negotiations is – “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

Listen to or download Pam’s testimony and answers to questions from lawmakers: NCGA president Pam Johnson Testimony

China Approves Monsanto DroughtGard Hybrids

The drought tolerance trait in Monsanto’s Genuity® DroughtGard® hybrids recently received final import approval from China, a major market for U.S. corn grain and dried distillers grain solubles (DDGS).

droughtgardThe approval was granted last week as part of a broader series of approvals and represents a significant step forward for technology approvals in China, according to Monsanto officials.

“The import approval of this trait is great news for U.S. farmers,” said Lisa Safarian, U.S. Row Crops Lead for Monsanto. “With full import approvals in key export markets, farmers can market their grain more broadly this year and plant with confidence in 2014.” Safarian added, “This approval also provides expanded access to another tool that can help farmers more sustainably manage their risk.”

More than 250 farmers in the Western Great Plains planted DroughtGard Hybrids last year on their farms as a part of Monsanto’s Ground Breakers® program. This year, the product was introduced in the Western Great Plains under stewardship requirements. Farmers who purchased DroughtGard Hybrids for planting in 2013 signed a grain stewardship agreement committing to use the grain as on-farm feed or to sell the grain for domestic use due to pending import approvals in key export markets. With the approval in China, Monsanto will remove the grain stewardship requirements, and grain will no longer be required to remain in the domestic market.

Read more from Monsanto press release.

Truth About Trade & Technology Update

ZimmCast 400Hello and welcome to the ZimmCast. This is episode #400! Seems like a milestone in a weekly agricultural podcast.

TATT LeadershipEnsuring that the Truth About Trade & Technology is told, TATT is hard at work. It has been a while since I’ve had a TATT Chat. But I got my chance during last week’s Bayer 150th Anniversary Celebration. Thanks to Michael Zirkle for the photo of me with Bill Horan, TATT Chairman and Mary Boote, TATT CEO. We talked about the big issues that TATT is currently working on. Here’s one of the things I like about TATT. Bill says “We’re able to say what a lot of companies and organizations would like to say but for political reasons and others they can’t say it.” And they don’t pull any punches!

Listen to this week’s ZimmCast here: Update on TATT

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.

WTO Launches New Trade Monitoring Database

WTOThe WTO launched a new trade monitoring database, which provides detailed information on trade measures implemented by WTO members and observers since October 2008. The database can be accessed through the WTO website.

The trade policy data is taken from the regular trade monitoring reports prepared by the WTO Secretariat. All information is submitted to the relevant WTO member for confirmation; if not confirmed, this is clearly indicated within the database.

The database will be updated each time a new trade monitoring report has been discussed by WTO members. The most recent update was completed on 15 October 2012. The next is expected at the end of July 2013.The information contained within the database can be displayed in a number of ways, including by implementing country, by country affected by the measure, by type of measure, and by products affected.

Ag Organizations Applaud Six Countries

fas_logoKey members of the U.S. agricultural value chain have joined together to applaud the work of the United States and like-minded governments to promote the importance of science-based regulations to facilitate trade of agricultural commodities derived from agricultural biotechnology.

In a joint statement, the United States was joined by the governments of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Paraguay to announce their intention to work collaboratively to remove global barriers to the trade of agricultural biotechnology and promote science-based, transparent and predictable regulatory approaches.

The U.S. agriculture sector agrees that a particular area of concern is the timeliness and efficiency of global regulatory systems. In the joint statement, the like-minded governments have highlighted their intention to promote synchronization of authorizations by regulatory authorities – in particular for food, feed and processing purposes.

US and China Seed Groups Sign MOU

Leaders from the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the China National Seed Association (CNSA) signed an historic Memo of Understanding today to promote cooperation relating to innovation in the seed industry, said ASTA president Andrew W. LaVigne.

“This agreement achieves two extremely important goals,” said LaVigne. “First, it is an important first step in providing new business opportunities for the world’s two largest seed industries; and second, it will ultimately work toward increased farmer productivity.”

The MOU reflects both parties’ desire to promote mutual interests through cooperation, information exchange and training in the areas of intellectual property rights, quality seed, science-based phytosanitary measures, seed movement and innovation in the seed industry on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.

Listen to remarks from ASTA Chairman Blake Curtis and several members at MOU signing: ASTA-China MOU Signing

Listen to Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner interview with Andy LaVigne on MOU: Andy LaVigne Interview

ASTA-CSS Photo Album

NPPC Talks Trade Agreement With EU

Trade and pork exports were among the topics addressed by the National Pork Producers Council during Trade Talk at National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention. Nick Giordano, Vice President and International Trade Counsel for NPPC, sat down with me to discuss NPPC’s role in protecting US pork producer’s interests both inside the US and abroad.

“National Pork Producers Council is often at the tip of the spear on trade issues because trade is so important to pork producers. We’ve been working closely with other agricultural groups for example, potential trade talks that might get started with European Union. We want to make sure as a threshold issue that pork and other food in ag products are included within the scope of the discussions.”

A coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations, led by the NPPC, sent a signed letter yesterday to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, stating it is important that any FTA with the EU be comprehensive and address impediments to trade in agricultural products.

“Carried out properly,” wrote the coalition to U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, “a U.S.-EU FTA would generate economic growth and create many thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The EU’s past FTAs have excluded agricultural goods it produces, and its regulatory measures often conflict with World Trade Organization rules, including regulations on “genetically modified” crop approval and labels, which restrict U.S. corn, soy and refined corn product exports, and on production methods in poultry, beef and pork.

Listen to my complete interview with Nick here: Nick Giordano - NPPC

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Farm Bill’s Effect On US Grains

You may believe the farm bill doesn’t effect you, but you might be surprised to find out that it covers more than you think. It was a hot topic during National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk. While sitting down with U.S. Grains Council’s President and CEO, Tom Sleight, I was reminded how intricate this farm bill is.

“It’s an interesting dilemma for us. The farm bill is not well known and one reason to get the farm bill moving. Public/private partnerships between US Grains Council take checkoff dollars and match that with business contributions. Thats matched again by USDA funding. That USDA funding was no longer authorized when the farm bill lapsed on October 1. So, we are working very closely with USDA to keep our offices open as long as we can. If the farm bill doesn’t get passed we might be forced with furlowing employees and closing offices come sometime in February.”

Tom said we need to talk more openly about the importance of trade to US agriculture. Many people don’t realize this public/private partnership funding is included in the farm bill.

The US Grains Council is partnered with 29 different checkoff entities for corn, sorghum and barley throughout the United States. But also with around 100 agribusinesses and grain exporting companies. These groups all have the common interest of making trade work around the world.

Listen to my complete interview with Tom here: Tom Sleight - US Grains Council

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Farm Foundation Workshop to Focus on Free Trade

Free trade agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama could mean big growth for U.S. animal products. To help you better understand implications of these agreements, our friends at Farm Foundation are hosting a two-day workshop, Sept. 27-28, 2012, entitled “Emerging Issues in Global Animal Product Trade: Assessing the Effects of Free Trade Agreements on Global Meat, Poultry and Dairy Trade,” at the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) office in Washington, D.C.

“By eliminating trade barriers, free trade agreements are changing the landscape of the animal products import and export market,” says Sheldon Jones, vice president of Farm Foundation, NFP. “This workshop will highlight ongoing research to examine potential challenges and opportunities for trade in animal products, as well as to identify issues where more information is needed.”

The free workshop brings together experts from the government, private industry and several agriculture groups. More information and registration (space is limited) are available through this Farm Foundation website.

Pork Export Market Opportunities

“Trade Policy for a Dynamic Pork Industry” was the topic for one of the first presentations at the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Swine Health Seminar. Our presenter was Laurie Hueneke, National Pork Producers Council.

During her presentation Laurie provided an overview of what the trade situation is for the industry in various regions and countries around the world. I spoke with her afterward. She says the growth opportunities for the industry include the ability to continue to export and access markets by reducing barriers. This includes China which has a lot of potential. Japan and Mexico continue to be good markets for us.

You can listen to my interview with Laurie here: Interview with Laurie Hueneke

I finally got all my photos uploaded. Please feel free to view and share: 2012 BIVI Swine Health Seminar Photo Album

What’s New With Wheat

Caught up with the execs of the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates at the 2012 Commodity Classic to find out what’s new with wheat.

What’s really new for NAWG is a brand new scholarship program with BASF just announced at the Classic, and CEO Dana Peterson says they are happy about the scholarship but sad about the circumstances that brought it about. “We are pleased to join with BASF to honor a longtime friend of wheat, Mr. Jerry Minore. He passed away just recently from a sudden illness and we were sorry to see him go,” Dana said.

Because Jerry just passed away less than a month ago, the details on the scholarship are still being developed, but Dana says they will be announced soon and available on the NAWG website.

Dana says they are thrilled with the record turnout of over 6,000 producers at Classic this year and pleased to celebrate their fifth year being one of the commodity groups that join together for the event.

Listen to my interview with Dana here: NAWG CEO Dana Peterson

I also spoke with U.S. Wheat president Alan Tracy at the wheat industry booth and he told me how excited they are about export opportunities in Asia, noting that they just celebrated their golden anniversary in Philippines. “In Asia, we continue to do very well,” he said. “I just returned from the Philippines where we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our having an office there in Manila.”

Alan says the Philippines have become at least the 5th largest market for U.S. Wheat. “This year it’s going to be 95% of their wheat comes form the United States,” Alan said, adding that the export market makes up about half of the U.S. crop in a given year.

Listen to my interview with Dana here: US Wheat President Alan Tracy

2012 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Coverage of the 2012 Commodity Classic Show is sponsored by BASF and New Holland

New Holland Tractor Goes to Charity Auction Signed by President Bush

Jay Leno’s Lil Tug going to auction with President George W. Bush’s signature on it! Here’s a photo of the sighing on his ranch from his Facebook page.

Talk show host Jay Leno used it in his famous Garage. Former President George W. Bush put his signature on it. And this Saturday, January 21, it will go on the auction block as part of New Holland Agriculture’s “True Blue Salute” program in support of veterans.

‘Lil Tug, the New Holland Boomer™ tractor that’s been working hard in Jay Leno’s Garage the past five years, will be auctioned off at the famed Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on Saturday evening – with all proceeds going to the Fisher House Foundation, best known for its network of homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers where families can stay while their loved ones are receiving treatment.

The auction will be broadcast live on SPEED TV, with the ‘Lil Tug scheduled to go on the block Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time (8:30 p.m. CT/9:30 p.m. EST).

The tractor auction marks the culmination of New Holland’s “True Blue Salute” program, which launched on Veterans Day in November and continues through Saturday – offering U.S. veterans and military personnel a $300 discount on the purchase of New Holland Boomer™ compact tractor models 30, 35, 40 or 50 purchased in North America. New Holland is also donating $100 to the Fisher House Foundation for every Boomer compact tractor sold in North America during the discount period.

In the days leading up to the auction, ‘Lil Tug (as Leno’s crew nicknamed the tractor) has been getting publicity in a variety of places, including:

Meeting Growing Export Demand

At the recent NAMA Trends in Agriculture conference one of our panel discussions featured Tom Dorr, U.S. Grains Council. The panel topic was “Meeting the Growing Demand for Exports for Trade.” Thanks to Paulsen Marketing for supplying this video clip with Tom.

Much of American agriculture is dependent on international trade. What does this mean for the future if the ag industry in our country? NAMA Trends in Agriculture explored that issue with a panel that included Tom Dorr, the President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. Dorr shared his thoughts on what solid export policy for the U.S. should look like.

Agriculture Groups Praise Passage of Trade Pacts

Agricultural interests have been trying for nearly five years to get Washington to act on three free trade agreements and finally in just over a week they have been sent to Congress and passed by significant majorities.

The trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia were each voted on separately and passed in rapid succession Wednesday, first by the House and then by the Senate. The votes in the House were 278-151 for South Korea, 300-129 for Panama and 262-167 for Colombia. In the Senate, it was 83-15 for South Korea, 77-22 for Panama and 66-33 for Colombia. The president is expected to sign them.

Farm groups were quick to praise the long-awaited action that is expected to mean increased exports for a variety of agricultural commodities.

“The three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama provide great opportunities for America’s farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer of Illinois, adding that U.S. farmers have been standing by watching other nations receive increased access to these markets as the FTAs waited in limbo.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
(NCBA) President Bill Donald of Montana was pleased to see Congress put differences aside to pass the trade deals. “For too long, the trade agreements have been collecting dust,” he said, noting that cattlemen have a lot to gain when the agreements are fully implemented by reducing and eliminating import tariffs on U.S. beef imposed by Colombia (80 percent), Panama (30 percent) and South Korea (40 percent).

Pork producers also have much to gain under the agreements, according to National Pork Producers Council president Doug Wolf of Wisconsin who called passage of the FTAs “one of the greatest victories ever for the U.S. pork industry” since it is expected to add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog marketed.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says passage of the agreements means over $2.3 billion in additional exports for American agriculture as a whole. “Immediately upon implementation of these agreements, the majority of American products exported to Korea, Colombia and Panama will become duty-free,” said Vilsack. “With record agricultural exports supporting more than a million jobs here at home, passage of these deals will contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses, and rural communities.”

The only question is, what took so long?