READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 18th

National Livestock Groups Call GIPSA Withdraw a Victory

National livestock groups are hailing the Department of Agriculture’s withdraw of a GIPSA rule a victory. USDA published a notice in the Federal Register announcing it would withdraw the interim final rule under the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, known as GIPSA. Through submitted comments, USDA said a common theme of those opposed to the interim final rule was that it would lead to increased litigation. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called the withdraw a victory for beef producers and consumers. The National Chicken Council says the rule “would have opened the floodgates to frivolous and costly litigation,” while applauding the USDA action. The National Pork Producers Council, which says it led the opposition effort against the interim final rule, said the organization was “very pleased” with the move.  NPPC says an Informa Economics study found that the 2010 GIPSA Rule would have cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually, more than $4 per hog, in added litigation costs.

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Canada “Flatly Rejects” U.S. Dairy Proposal

Wrapping up the fourth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. proposed a dismantling of Canada’s dairy supply management system. Bloomberg reports Canada “flatly rejects” the proposal by the United States. The proposal would effectively kill Canada’s supply management system by fully eliminating tariffs on supply-managed products over ten years. President Donald Trump earlier this year called the system “unfair,” and used the system as part of his threat to withdraw from NAFTA. Canada’s government dismissed the U.S. dairy proposal, while the Dairy Farmers of Canada called it “outrageous.” The U.S. proposal, according to Canada officials, would effectively end supply management. Canada’s Agriculture Minister said to “deal with anything else is simply a non-starter.” Former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urged that the U.S. proposals be considered opening offers, saying “it’s a negotiation.”

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NAFTA Commodity Groups Unite to Urge Negotiation Success

U.S. commodity export groups, along with counterparts from Canada and Mexico, are reiterating their support for free trade. The U.S. Grains Council, along with the U.S. Soybean Export Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Corn Growers, and others, met with counterparts from Canada and Mexico last week. As round four of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations conclude, the groups continue to stress the importance of the agreement to agriculture. In a joint statement, the groups encouraged negotiators to “continue their participation in good faith” in the negotiations, and “produce an agreement that builds upon our ongoing success.” Round four of the talks in Washington, D.C. saw the introduction of agriculture proposals by the U.S. The groups point out that grains and soy trade between Mexico and the United States in 2016 represented more than $6.6 billion dollars with more than 90 percent of those ingredients consumed by the Mexican livestock industry.

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Initial Progress Made on U.S.-Japan Trade Issues

The U.S. and Japan in a joint statement said the two nations have made “initial progress” on trade issues. The statement comes as Vice President Mike Pence talked with Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister earlier this week. The Joint statement says some “initial progress” on bilateral trade issues such as lifting import restrictions on Japanese persimmons and Idaho potatoes, according to Politico. Meanwhile, U.S. beef producers were eager to see the talks begin to address Japan’s safeguard tariff that ratcheted up duties of imported frozen beef from 38.5 percent to 50 percent. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said long-term competitive market access to Japan is the “number one priority for the U.S. beef industry.” The statement from Pence and Japan said that: “Both sides committed to build on momentum in the dialogue to demonstrate progress in the near future.”

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EPA Ending “Sue and Settle”

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is touting a directive he signed this week to end the EPA’s so-called “sue and settle” strategy, a practice agriculture groups opposed. Pruitt issued an Agency-wide directive Monday to end the practice, a move he says means “the days of regulation through litigation are over.” Pruitt said the agency would “no longer go behind closed doors” and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the agency by special interest groups. Pruitt announced his intention to end “sue and settle” in March of this year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce describes the “sue and settle” practice as when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in more than 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. The Chamber says these cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations, including the recent Clean Power Plan.

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No “Skull and Crossbones” for GMO Apple Labels

The company behind GMO apples hitting the market later this fall says the apples won’t be labeled as containing GMO’s. The arctic variety apples developed by Okanagan(oh-can-naugh-gan) Specialty Fruits, an initiative started by an apple farmer, will instead include a QR code, as outlined in the GMO labeling bill that was passed by Congress and signed by then President Barack Obama. Neil Carter, founder of the company, said last week: “We didn’t want put ‘GMO’ and a skull and crossbones on the package.” The MIT Technology Review reports the product will be the first significant test of a GMO whose modification is meant to appeal to consumers, rather than help farmers increase production. The company plans to sell the apples as bags of pre-sliced fruit in up to 400 stores in the Midwest and Southern California at launch. Carter and his research cohorts used gene splicing to create a non-browning apple, the artic apple, to increase apple sales and reduce food waste. About 45 percent of fruits and vegetables grown are thrown away, according to the United Nations.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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