READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 10th…

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TTIP Talks Turning South, Deal Faces Uncertain Future

Trade negotiators for the U.S. and the European Union left scheduled talks in New York last week with little progress made regarding the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. U.S. negotiators even rejected an EU request for three days of agriculture talks. The National Pork Producers Council, which supports TTIP, said the group is skeptical of father progress of the trade deal based on the stubbornness of the EU on various issues. The 28-country bloc is willing to eliminate tariffs on nearly all goods, for example, but the EU announced it is unwilling to remove tariffs on beef, poultry and pork. The EU has indicated it would allow some market access for “sensitive” products, including meat if the United States agrees to the EU’s demands on reciprocal access and on protections for products labeled with geographical indications. NPPC says the future of TTIP is now more uncertain. Last month, EU trade ministers expressed doubts about getting the trade deal completed before the end of the Obama administration and several called for a pause in negotiations. No talks are scheduled beyond October.


Food Industry Leaders Say Consumers Want GMO labels

With a new federal labeling standard on the way, food company executives told the Wall Street Journal that consumers want GMO products labeled. The Wall Street Journal gathered executives in agribusiness, consumer products and government to explore challenges and opportunities in the industry last week. A loud voice in the labeling acceptance world, Campbell Soup Company, says the company supports labeling because consumers want transparency. Meanwhile, Panera Bread’s founders say they are “not taking a unilateral position on GMOs,” but added Panera supports GMO labeling because that is what their customers want. However, executives of Wal-Mart took a different angle. A Wal-Mart spokesperson says “the debate never should have been about labeling, but rather about whether GMOs are safe or not, and relying on science as the guide.” Wal-Mart officials say food producers and retailers may have to educate consumers to close the gap between perceived and actual risk, but added the company will “always offer what the customer wants.”


USDA Issues Sour Egg Board Report

The Department of Agriculture says the American Egg Board engaged in inappropriate conduct following a USDA checkoff review. The results announced last week regarding what’s known as “mayogate” stem from an Agricultural Marketing Service review after Egg Board emails became public. Politico reports the emails appeared to show a coordinated campaign against San Francisco-based Hampton Creek and its egg-less mayo. The company CEO then filed a complaint with USDA alleging nine difference cases of misconduct by the Egg Board. USDA says the review did not substantiate all nine allegations but did reveal several instances of inappropriate conduct by Egg Board staff and board members. USDA says the conduct included inappropriate emails, an inappropriate focus on a specific company and deleted emails by the Egg Board CEO regarding the matter. USDA says all inappropriate conduct stopped once the review began.


Brazil Opens Market for U.S. Corn Imports

Brazil recently paved the way for imports of U.S. corn following a short corn crop, according to industry sources. Regulators in Brazil last week met and authorized outstanding biotech products needed to open Brazil for U.S. corn exports. The U.S. Grains Council says Brazil has faced a significant shortfall in its current corn crop, particularly in its second winter crop; with an estimated 16 million metric tons less produced this year than the last growing season. This has halved exports and prompted imports from regional producers Argentina and Paraguay. To date, the United States has not been able to fill the demand due to lack of approvals of some biotech products used by U.S. farmers. However, the Grains Council says last week’s move by Brazil opens the doors for U.S. corn. Still, imported corn may be limited to specific use in Brazil, restricting the export potential.

August Beef, Pork Exports Strong

Data released last week by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows August was a strong month for U.S. red meat exports as beef export volume was the largest in nearly two years. The results show both beef and pork exports posted the highest monthly values of 2016. August beef export volume climbed 27 percent from a year ago to near 107,000 metric tons, the highest since October 2014. Export value was $566.8 million, up 14 percent. For January through August, export volume was up six percent, while value was down seven percent to just over $4 billion. Pork exports were up 16 percent from a year ago to 186,000 metric tons, the largest volume ever posted in August. Export value was up 19 percent to $512 million. Export value also moved one percent ahead of last year’s pace at $3.78 billion.


EU Duties on Argentine Biodiesel Lose Another Challenge

The World Trade Organization recently ruled for a second time that European Union duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina violated international trade rules. The European Union now must ensure that its measures comply with WTO rules or face the prospect of retaliatory trade tariffs from Argentina. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports that Argentina alleged the EU’s imposition of additional average duties of 24.6 percent on biodiesel imports did not comply with world trade rules. The WTO ruling could have an impact on a separate, pending WTO dispute case filed by Indonesia regarding EU antidumping duties on Indonesian imports of biodiesel.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service