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WTO rules against Indonesia on animal product import restrictions

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on November 15, 2017

The World Trade Organization has confirmed a WTO panel finding that Indonesia’s import restrictions for horticultural products and animals and animal products are against WTO rules. The WTO’s rejection of Indonesia’s appeal of the panel finding marks a “resounding victory for the United States that should result in increased export opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers as well as increased Indonesian consumer access to high-quality U.S. agricultural products,” the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.

White House implements new Cuba policy restricting travel and trade

The Washington Post | Posted on November 15, 2017

The Trump administration announced tight new restrictions Wednesday on American travel and trade with Cuba, implementing policy changes President Trump announced five months ago to reverse Obama administration normalization with the communist-ruled island. Under the new rules, most individual visits to Cuba will no longer be allowed, and U.S. citizens will again have to travel as part of groups licensed by the Treasury Department for specific purposes, accompanied by a group representative. Americans also will be barred from staying at a long list of hotels and from patronizing restaurants, stores and other enterprises that the State Department has determined are owned by or benefit members of the Cuban government, specifically its security services.

EPA Air Emissions Reporting Looms for Livestock Operations

Ag Web | Posted on November 15, 2017

Barring a delay from a federal court, between 60,000 and 100,000 livestock and poultry operations will be mandated to file a report regarding on-farm air emissions beginning Wednesday, Nov. 15. The reporting is mandatory for farms that exceed the reporting threshold of 100 pounds total of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide in any 24-hour period at least once annually.  Last week the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. (USPOULTRY) filed a brief in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to delay the mandate that farmers report those air emissions. Last April a federal court denied an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Act and the Emergency Community Response Right to Know Act.Beginning Wednesday, livestock and poultry farmers will need to file air emissions reports with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC), as well as written reports with their regional EPA office within 30 days of reporting to NRC. "Farms with continuous releases must submit their initial continuous release notification starting on Nov. 15, 2017,” The EPA statement said. “Due to the potential for large call volumes to the National Response Center, we are establishing an email option for initial continuous release notifications. The system should be available by Nov. 15, 2017.“Farm owners/operators may use the email option once it is available rather than calling the NRC. This expedited option will allow one email notification for owners/operators with multiple farms."

Trump bailed on a trade deal, and now a bunch of US businesses may suffer

CNBC | Posted on November 14, 2017

American farmers and small business owners are among the U.S. industries that will be worst hit once a new Trans Pacific Partnership deal is implemented, said one expert. Over the weekend, TPP member countries made progress on a deal without Washington.One of the defining actions of President Donald Trump's tenure in the White House so far is his decision to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation trade pact that would have had wide-ranging implications for the global economy.Now that deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — looks like it's going to be settled without the U.S.. That may mean American farmers and small business owners will soon regret Washington's exit."The U.S. business community that's going to get hit the hardest when TPP happens is going to be agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises," said Steve Okun, senior advisor at international trade consultancy McLarty Associates and a former deputy general counsel at the U.S. transportation department.Progress on the agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, hit a milestone over the weekend as the 11 remaining members agreed on core elements for a new framework without the U.S.Once the new deal is implemented, American farmers could be left at a disadvantage: The agreement seeks lower tariffs for goods traded among members, the bulk of which are Asia-Pacific nations. That means non-member countries, such as the U.S., will still face high rates when shipping to Asia-Pacific.


Anti-Farmer Legislation Rings Hollow

Farm Policy Facts | Posted on November 14, 2017

The “Sugar Policy Modernization Act” would prohibit sugar growers from receiving nonrecourse loans available to other crops – loans that are repaid with interest and are the main component of U.S. sugar policy.  The bill would also mandate that the USDA keep America’s sugar market flooded with imports to artificially depress prices for multinational food companies. “A better name would be the ‘Sugar Farmer Bankruptcy Bill’ because that’s exactly what it’s designed to do,” explained Galen Lee, a sugarbeet farmer from Idaho.It’s a devastating bill for rural communities from coast to coast all by itself, but Shaheen wasn’t finished.A day later, she teamed with Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to introduce legislation designed to deny farmers access to insurance policies that provide some revenue stability amid price declines and low yields.These policies are vital to farmers who forward contract crops and to farmers forced to purchase feed for livestock following the loss of their own crops.  And they are extremely popular, covering more than 9 out of 10 acres of U.S. corn and soybean in the crop insurance system.  Revenue coverage is also used on 87% of wheat policies and 81% of cotton.In other words, if you farm, chances are good the lawmakers took a swipe at your livelihood last week.  And their rationale for doing so was to save taxpayers money, which is nonsense.First, sugar policy has operated without taxpayer cost for the entire 2014 Farm Bill – well below Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.  Simply put, it has a $0 price tag and has cost taxpayers less than expected.Meanwhile, farmers help fund crop insurance with money from their own pockets – and they have to pay a lot more for revenue coverage.  Under this cost-share structure, crop insurance’s 10-year cost projection by CBO is down nearly $10 billion since 2013.No, these bills are not about taxpayers.  The proposals are anti-farmer, plain and simple, and they embody the harmful rhetoric used by long-time agriculture critics like Heritage.

USDA delays organic livestock rules for the third time

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on November 14, 2017

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is delaying the effective date of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule, published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, 2017, until May 14, 2018. This is the third effective date delay of the rule, which amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements of the USDA organic regulations by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and livestock living conditions.

Icahn Subpoenaed US Attorney Wants Information on Energy Investor's Involvement With RFS

DTN | Posted on November 9, 2017

Though no longer an adviser to President Donald Trump, billionaire energy investor Carl Icahn may now be the subject of a federal investigation related to his involvement with the Renewable Fuel Standard. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has subpoenaed Icahn's company, Icahn Enterprises LP, for information on Icahn's work with the president on the RFS, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission on Nov. 3."The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York recently contacted Icahn Enterprises L.P. seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr. Icahn's activities relating to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Mr. Icahn's role as an adviser to the president," the SEC filing said.

Farm Bill Won't Come up in House in '17

DTN | Posted on November 9, 2017

Tax reform and federal budget issues in the final two months of the year will keep the House Agriculture Committee from advancing a farm bill until early next year.

USDA Chief Scientist Statement on WHO Guidelines on Antibiotics

USDA | Posted on November 9, 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Acting Chief Scientist, today issued the following statement: “The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals."“The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX. However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence.'"“Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, medically important antibiotics should not be used for growth promotion in animals. In the U.S., the FDA allows for the use of antimicrobial drugs in treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-producing animals under the professional oversight of licensed veterinarians. While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would also impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgement."

US ag equipment manufacturers eye Cuba before rules change

KTIC Radio | Posted on November 9, 2017

U.S. manufacturers appear to be racing the clock before the Trump administration tightens economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Over the last week, both John Deere and Caterpillar announced agreements with the Cuban government that might let the two Illinois-based companies sell farm tractors and other heavy equipment on the island. The occasion for this rush of activity was the annual Havana International Fair, Cuba’s largest commercial fair. Focus of the event is the Mariel Special Development Zone, a container ship facility near Havana and center of Cuba’s import/export businesses.In June, President Donald Trump announced that he was “cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” He did not give specifics, but administration officials said details would follow within 90 days. Those details have not been made public yet. With that in mind, Deere announced it would send 5000 Series tractors (between 75-115 horsepower) to Cuba this month. “This equipment is for testing and appraisal to ensure it will work with specific Cuban agricultural conditions and farming practices,” said Deere spokesman Ken Golden. A report in Manufacturer News quotes Golden as saying Deere would send “several hundred tractors and associated implements” over a four-year period.