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U.S. agriculture applauds NAFTA replacement

Capital Press | Posted on October 4, 2018

Some U.S. commodities will gain additional access to Canadian markets, and others will retain existing zero-tariff access to Canada and Mexico. The trilateral agreement barely came in under a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S., at which point the U.S. would have moved forward with the trade deal reached with Mexico a month earlier.The renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement will move ahead as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.A major sticking point with Canada was granting more access to U.S. dairy products and the elimination of Canada’s Class 7 milk-ingredient pricing program implemented last year.That program artificially lowered prices for Canada’s domestic milk ingredients for domestic processors to discourage the purchase of U.S. ingredients. It also undercut competitors’ dairy product prices in the international market, according to the U.S. and other dairy-exporting countries.The agreement also gives additional access to Canadian markets to U.S. poultry and eggs and addresses issues with Canada’s grain-grading system. For other commodities, it was a matter of safeguarding existing market access.“However, the true measure of success will be when U.S. markets regain full trading status, and that is why FFT will continue to urge the immediate removal of tariffs, she said.Americans for Farmers and Families said the significance of the agreement cannot be overstated.NAFTA “has brought unprecedented economic success to the U.S. — not only through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices — but also by allowing America’s food and agricultural industry to thrive,” Casey Guemsey, an AFF spokesman, said.

USDA’s Trade Aid Package

Farm Policy News | Posted on October 4, 2018

Recent news articles have discussed USDA’s trade aid package, as well as the potential impacts of ongoing trade tariffs on U.S. farm goods.  Today’s update provides an overview of several of these articles. Wall Street Journal writer Jesse Newman reported late last week that, “The Trump administration has started compensating U.S. farmers for damage tariffs are doing to their business.“Many farmers say the payments won’t make up for lost sales to China and other foreign markets they were counting on to buy the huge amounts of crops and meat being produced across the Farm Belt.“Bumper corn and soybean harvests and record pork production have pushed down prices for agricultural commodities. U.S. farm income is expected to drop 13% this year to $66 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture, extending a yearslong slump in the agricultural economy.” Beth Ford, chief executive officer of Minnesota-based agriculture cooperative Land O’Lakes Inc.] said the Trump administration’s compensation package falls short of the losses being incurred by producers, many of whom can’t simply wait for tariffs to be lifted.

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on modernizing standards of identity and the use of dairy names for plant-based substitute

FDA | Posted on October 1, 2018

Consumers should be able to know at a quick glance what type of product they’re purchasing for themselves and their families. Implementing clear and transparent food labels and claims is an issue I’ve made a high priority. We’ve outlined these goals in a new, multi-year Nutrition Innovation Strategy released earlier this year. As part of this plan, we promised to address issues related to modernizing the outdated framework for food standards to allow industry flexibility for innovation, for example to produce more healthful foods, while maintaining the basic nature, essential characteristics and nutritional integrity of key food products. The wide variety of plant-based foods that are being positioned in the marketplace as substitutes for standardized dairy products has been the subject of much discussion in our initial work on the Nutrition Innovation Strategy. The rising demand for plant-based products, like soy-based alternatives to cheese and nut-based alternatives to milk, has created a growing number of new food choices in supermarket aisles. However, these products are not foods that have been standardized under names like “milk” and “cheese.” The FDA has concerns that the labeling of some plant-based products may lead consumers to believe that those products have the same key nutritional attributes as dairy products, even though these products can vary widely in their nutritional content. It is important that we better understand consumers’ expectations of these plant-based products compared to dairy products.

FDA Announces FY 2019 Animal Drug User Fee Rates for ADUFA and AGDUFA

FDA | Posted on September 26, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in the Federal Register today the fiscal year 2019 rates and payment procedures for animal drugs subject to user fees under the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018 (ADUFA IV) and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018 (AGDUFA III). ADUFA, originally signed into law in 2003 and reauthorized in 2008, 2013 and 2018, amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and authorizes the FDA to collect fees for certain animal drug applications and supplements, products, establishments, and sponsors of animal drug applications and/or investigational animal drug submissions. These resources support the FDA’s responsibilities to ensure that new animal drug products are safe and effective for animals, as well as ensuring the safety of food from treated animals. ADUFA IV reauthorizes the FDA to collect user fees through FY 2023.

Trump Administration Seeks To Limit Immigration Status Based On Use Of Public Aid

NPR | Posted on September 26, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security announced a proposal to sharply tighten immigration rules today. Some immigrants who use welfare programs that they are legally entitled to use, like food assistance and housing vouchers, could be denied green cards because they use those programs.  It's already been a rule that, in order to get a green card, an applicant can't be what is known as a public charge.It's a phrase that goes all the way back into the 19th century in our immigration laws. Basically, it means an immigrant who relies primarily on the federal government. It has been interpreted traditionally to mean cash benefits, like welfare. But this is the first time that an administration has really proposed extending the notion of a public charge to noncash benefits - the housing, the health insurance, the nutrition assistance. And it's something that the administrations have not done before, perhaps because Congress has decided that immigrants should be entitled to use these programs. We're talking, of course, about legal immigrants.

FSMA inspectors want ‘why’ of animal feed safety plan

Watt Ag Net | Posted on September 26, 2018

To satisfy Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) inspectors, feed mill employees should know and be able to explain the reasoning behind all the steps in an animal feed safety plan, said Cassandra Jones, Ph.D., associate professor at Kansas State University, in an interview after her presentation at the Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference, on September 19 in St. Louis. Jones has observed a recurring problem when she helps feed mill facilities preparing for FSMA inspections. While feed mill workers may know the physical steps of a food safety plan, they may not have been fully trained on the reasoning behind each action.Many facilities haven’t completely fleshed out the why, she said.“The individual who is receiving the investigator understands what is in the safety plan, but may not understand why those decisions were made,” Jones said.

EPA to abandon restrictions against use of hydrofluorocarbons as refrigerant in appliances

The Hill | Posted on September 26, 2018

The Trump administration is planning to  do away with an Obama-era regulation that restricted a known greenhouse gas from being used as a refrigerant in household appliances. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late Wednesday announced it's proposing a rule to rescind a 2016 regulation that would have phased out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in appliances. The chemical is frequently used as a refrigerant substitute in air conditioners and refrigerators. EPA said the new rule is based off the agency’s own determination that the previous rule “exceeded its statutory authority” by extending a refrigerant management requirement meant for ozone depleting substitutes to the gas, which in itself does not contribute to ozone depletion. The agency added that the new rule does not affect current requirements for other ozone-depleting refrigerants. Sensing a legal challenge may hinder the EPA’s implementation of the 2016 rule, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill in February that would give the agency the authority to regulate the greenhouse gas–causing chemical due to its air pollution, not relying on a connection to ozone depletion.At the time Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the bill, called the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, “continues support for American development and manufacturing of next-generation HFC-alternatives, while also protecting our environment and helping the U.S. meet its obligations under the amended Montreal Protocol — a true win-win.”

China ad in Des Moines Register aimed at U.S. farmers

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on September 26, 2018

China reached into the U.S. heartland in its escalating trade war over President Donald Trump's tariffs, using an advertising supplement to highlight the impact on the state's soybean farmers as "the fruit of a president's folly." The four-page section in Sunday’s Des Moines Register, which carried the label “paid for and prepared solely by China Daily, an official publication of the People’s Republic of China,” featured such articles as one outlining how the trade dispute is forcing Chinese importers to turn to South America instead of the U.S. for soybeans.The advertising targets a state critical to Trump and Republicans as the trade war between the world’s two largest economies intensifies. The U.S. is imposing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports starting Monday, on top of the $50 billion in goods already hit with tariffs. Meanwhile, $110 billion of goods from the U.S. will become subject to Chinese retaliatory tariffs around the same time.

China accuses US of ‘bullying’ on trade but calls for cooperation

South China Morning Post | Posted on September 26, 2018

Beijing has accused Washington of bullying tactics and economic intimidation, while restating its own stance that only cooperation on trade issues will produce results, in the government’s most comprehensive statement of its trade war stance to date. The white paper released by the official Xinhua New Agency came after Beijing declined on Saturday the US invitation to hold talks to try to resolve the ongoing trade dispute and only an hour after the latest round of US tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports kicked in. The document declared that the “America first” economic policies being pursued by the US administration and punitive tariffs on Chinese products had “greatly undermined” bilateral economic ties and threatened the world’s multilateral system of trade.In keeping with its practice not to personalise the trade conflict, the white paper never mentions US President Donald Trump by name throughout the 36,000-word text.

Concern over Possible Division within the Administration over China Trade

Chick News | Posted on September 26, 2018

It is evident that the initiative of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin supported by U. S. financial and business leaders to reach an accord with China over trade issues is impeded by implacable opposition by elements in the Administration favoring escalation in tariffs. The President has proposed placing tariffs on an addition $200 billion in Chinese products exported to the U.S. with anticipated retaliatory action by China. Unilateral imposition of tariffs on exports to the U.S. will clearly serve as a barrier to continued negotiations. A White House spokesperson noted “The President has been clear that he and his Administration will continue to take action to address China’s unfair trade practices. We encourage China to address the longstanding concerns raised by the United States.” The Administration is apparently unaware of the concept of “face” which is an important determinant in decisions and action in China. To make concessions in an environment characterized by threats might be acceptable in the West, but is antithetical to leaders of the world’s second largest economy. This is expressed in a statement, “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head.”