National Ag News for March 7, 2023

USTR Requests Consultations With Mexico, Vilsack Responds

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office Monday requested technical consultations with the Government of Mexico under the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement. The consultations, as part of the USMCA Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter, are aimed at Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says, “Mexico’s policies threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade and they will stifle the innovation that is necessary to tackle the climate crisis and food security challenges if left unaddressed.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “These consultations represent the next step in addressing the United States’ concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies,” while adding, “We remain firm in our view that Mexico’s current biotechnology trajectory is not grounded in science, which is the foundation of USMCA.” The U.S. government’s intention is that through the consultation process, USTR can reach an outcome that respects each country’s sovereignty and benefits the United States, Mexico, and U.S. agricultural producers and stakeholders.

NCGA: USTR Request a Step Closer to USMCA Dispute Panel

The request for technical consultation with Mexico by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office puts the U.S. one step away from a full dispute settlement under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The National Corn Growers Association and affiliated state associations have been leading calls for the Biden administration to act, applauded the development and urged USTR to expedite the process. NCGA President Tom Haag says, “Mexico’s position on biotech corn is already creating uncertainty, so we need U.S. officials to move swiftly and do everything it takes to eliminate this trade barrier.” A technical consultation will bring leaders from both countries into formal discussions. If this step does not resolve the stalemate, the U.S. can then initiate a dispute settlement under USMCA. Once a dispute settlement is filed, a group of experts are empaneled to hear the case and make final determinations based on the commitments both parties signed as part of the free trade agreement.

USDA Proposes New Requirements for the “Product of USA” Label

The Department of Agriculture Monday released a proposed rule with new regulatory requirements to the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim. The proposed rule allows the voluntary “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These proposed changes are intended to provide consumers with accurate information to make informed purchasing decisions.” Vilsack announced the proposal at the National Farmers Union annual convention in San Francisco. NFU President Rob Larew says, “This voluntary effort is a strong step and a strong base for permanent and mandatory country of origin label soon.” However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association responded, “Simply adding born, raised, and harvested requirements to an already broken label will fail to deliver additional value to cattle producers and it will undercut true voluntary, market-driven labels that benefit cattle producers.”

Vilsack Announces New Independent Processors Funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday announced an $89 million investment to finance the startup and expansion of independent meat processors. USDA also announced the department’s initial steps to create a more competitive marketplace for seeds and other agricultural inputs. Vilsack says the investment “will promote competition, support producer income, strengthen the supply chain, and increase economic opportunity in rural communities.” USDA is providing $89 million in grants under the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program to increase available financing for independent processors, alleviate bottlenecks, and create opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural communities. The investments are being made under the second round of the program. Nonprofit lenders in seven states will use the funding to establish revolving loan funds to finance the startup, expansion and operation of meat and poultry processors. USDA is making the investments in Alabama, Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Farm Bureau Analysis: 2022 Crop Losses Top $21 Billion

The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates 2022 crop losses due to weather and climate change at more than $21.4 billion. The AFBF Market Intel analysis shows in 2022, 18 weather and climate disasters, each with damages exceeding $1 billion struck the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2022 surpassed 2021 as the third-costliest disaster year event in history, with an estimated $165 billion in total economic losses. In 2022, Texas suffered the most significant hit, with over $6.4 billion in incurred losses primarily made up of $2.9 billion in damages to cotton. More than half of the agricultural losses were effectively protected under existing risk management programs with the remainder highlighting the importance of inclusive protections for growers of all crops in all regions of the nation. AFBF crop loss estimates do not include infrastructure damage, livestock losses, horticulture crop losses or timber losses associated with the selected weather events.

Farm Bureau Helps Fight Hunger Through Harvest for All Program

Farm families from across the nation donated 25.3 million pounds of food and raised more than $1 million to help fight hunger in 2022 through Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 31.1 million meals. Criteria for tracking Harvest for All donations included dollars and pounds of food donated by state and county Farm Bureaus, as well as volunteer hours. In addition to raising food and funds, farmers and ranchers tallied 13,827 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2022. Florida Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2022, 18.7 million pounds, and the most volunteer hours at 6,400. Michigan Farm Bureau took top honors for raising the most money in 2022, $372,716. Since Harvest for All was launched, Farm Bureau families have gathered 437 million pounds of food, logged more than 237,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $11 million in donations.


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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