National Ag News for June 5, 2023

USTR to Initiate USMCA Dispute Settlement with Mexico

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office announced that it is filing a dispute settlement under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in response to Mexico’s ban on biotech corn for human consumption. The National Corn Growers Association has called on the administration to act and praised the development. “Mexico’s actions, not based on sound science, have threatened the financial well-being of corn growers and rural communities,” says NCGA President Tom Haag (HAYG). Under the agreement, once a dispute settlement gets filed, a group of objective experts will hear the case and make a final determination based on the commitments of both parties under the free trade agreement. Tai says Mexico’s measures are inconsistent with several of its obligations in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Market Access chapters of the agreement. “The USMCA was written to ensure that all producers in the three countries have full access to each other’s markets,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.  

USDA Proposes Action Plan to Modernize FMMOs

The National Milk Producers Federation applauds USDA for proposing its “Action Plan” for a national hearing based on NMPF’s proposal to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders. The federation looks forward to the next phase of creating a federal order system that better reflects today’s market conditions and dairy producer needs. “We’re grateful USDA recognizes the comprehensive nature of our proposal and are looking forward to it being considered in full because the whole of our plan adds up to more than the sum of its parts,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We held more than 150 meetings and wide consultation across dairy producers and the entire industry in coming up with our plan.” The agency says the action plan may include a tentative hearing start date of August 23, 2023. The USDA received the federation’s formal proposal to amend the pricing provisions of all 11 FMMOs on May 2.

USB CEO Ruhland Stepping Down

Polly Ruhland, CEO of the United Soybean Board, will leave her position effective December 31, 2023. Ruhland has led the organization for six years and played a pivotal role in driving significant organizational changes and setting a foundation for USB’s future. “Polly has been a visionary leader for USB during a very transformative time,” says Meagan Kaiser, USB Chair. “A true servant-leader, her biggest contribution and lasting legacy is building a first-class staff that we can rely on.” During the past six years, USB embarked on a transformative journey marked by numerous accomplishments and milestones, including developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan. The plan also reinforced USB’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and market development. Kaiser will form a search committee to identify a new Chief Executive Officer. The committee will begin the search after USB’s July board meeting to have a new CEO in place by the end of 2023.

Senate Ag Chair Comments on Debt Agreement

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was pleased that the Senate voted to pass the bipartisan bill to avoid a debt default, calling it critical for our economy and families. “I’m pleased this agreement protects the important steps that we’ve taken over the last two years to rebuild America, bring jobs home, lower the costs of health care, and tackle the climate crisis,” Stabenow says. Stabenow also says she’s deeply disappointed by the changes that were agreed to in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “As the Ag, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chair, I intend to produce a bipartisan farm bill that protects critical nutrition and food assistance programs for all Americans,” she said. “And as far as I’m concerned, the work requirements issue is settled for this Congress.” She intends to in no way further erode the dignity of Americans who need roughly $6 a day to buy food.

Milk Producers Oppose Shortsighted Infant Formula Legislation

The National Milk Producers Federation strongly opposes legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress that would increase U.S. vulnerability to infant formula supply disruptions. The bill would increase U.S. reliance on imported formula and formula inputs. It would also unilaterally and permanently remove tariffs and tariff rate quotas on infant formula and infant formula base powder, resulting in lost jobs and foreign dependence. “This bill puts in place new one-way street trade conditions that would harm dairy farmers, cooperatives, and processors,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “We vehemently object to putting unilateral import expansion on the backs of U.S. dairy farmers.” The organization says the bill is a misguided response to the dire shortages of infant formula that occurred last year after a temporary production crisis at a large U.S. formula manufacturing plant. The FDA says formula stocking levels are higher than those seen before last year’s shortage.

Legislators Oppose Discriminatory Brazilian Tariffs on Ethanol

A bipartisan group of congressional members is asking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to prioritize ethanol export competitiveness and address unfair import tariffs Brazil has in place on U.S. ethanol. The letter, signed by 21 members, highlighted the importance of biofuel and ethanol production for rural communities throughout the country. Recently announced import tariffs by Brazil on American ethanol would negatively impact American agriculture, which previously received duty-free treatment from Brazil. “We believe the tariff imbalance is unjustified and puts American ethanol and farmers at risk,” the letter says. “We strongly urge you to prioritize American ethanol export competitiveness in the Brazilian market by addressing these unfair policies.” The letter also says should Brazil’s unfair treatment continue, the lawmakers then stand ready to work with Tai to consider measures that protect American farmers and biofuel producers to help counter these unfair trade practices. Brazil’s tariff was reinstated on February 1.


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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