READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 15th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 15th

Bipartisan Bill Seeks Agricultural Exemption to Emissions Reporting Requirements

Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would exempt farmers from reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. The bill seeks an exemption for farmers and ranchers from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The bill was introduced by Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer and Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly earlier this week. In a statement, Fischer noted that in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency published a final rule exempting most livestock operations from the laws’ reporting requirements, but that last April, a federal appeals court ruled EPA did not have the authority to create the exemption for agriculture. Known as the Fair Agriculture Reporting Method, or FARM Act, the legislation will maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides, exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements, and provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

Former Ag Trade Negotiator Says Much Work Left on NAFTA

A former Obama administration trade official says there is too much left to do before the deadline for the North American Free Trade Agreement talks. Former Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, Darci Vetter, told the negotiations “have a long way to go.” Noting that some issues don’t have an assigned approach yet by the administration, she says: “There are some technical issues, like the rules of origin, that are really complicated to advance.” Vetter warns the talks could harm trade with Mexico, the top buyer of U.S. corn. Vetter noted that before NAFTA there was little competition for the U.S. as an ag supplier to Mexico. However, she noted that competitors such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Brazil, could take part of U.S. exports of corn to Mexico. Adding to the possible delays in getting the trade talks wrapped up on time, Vetter highlighted the fact that Mexico will face elections this year followed by the coming elections of the United States.

Canada: Trade Problems Expected with the U.S. Even if NAFTA is Signed

Canada expects trade challenges from the U.S. will continue even if the North American Free Trade Agreement talks are successful. a senior Canadian government official says: “Even if a new NAFTA were to be signed tomorrow I think we would still face a lot of turbulence in our relationship with the United States on trade.” Timothy Sargent, the top bureaucrat in Canada’s Trade Ministry, noted recent U.S. moves to impose duties on Canadian softwood lumber, commercial airliners and some paper products, as examples. All were prompted by complaints from American firms, according to Reuters. He also pointed out President Trump’s move to place duties on imports of solar panels, saying “I think we can expect more of that.” Meanwhile, President Trump recently again threatened a U.S. withdrawal from the talks if the U.S. does not reach a favorable agreement. However, Canada has recently done the same.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Wants Beef Defined

The United States Cattlemen’s Association wants the Department of Agriculture to clarify the definition of beef. USCA late last week submitted a petition to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service asking the agency for rulemaking on beef labeling to clarify for consumers what is beef derived from cattle and “beef” products created in a laboratory. USCA Presider Kenny Graner says: “U.S. cattle producers take pride in developing the highest quality, and safest, beef in the world, and labels must clearly distinguish that difference.” USCA is not the only industry group asking questions about how lab-grown meat will be regulated, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. The North American Meat Institute also made it a hot topic at the recently held International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Secretary Perdue Confirmed as 2018 Commodity Classic Keynote Speaker

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will speak at the upcoming Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California. Held February 27th to March first, Perdue will be the keynote speaker for Wednesday morning’s general session of this year’s event. Secretary Perdue is expected to share his vision for the U.S. Department of Agriculture including his thoughts on a new farm bill, international trade, rural development and the role of agriculture in America’s food security and economic vitality. Following Secretary Perdue’s keynote speech, the audience will hear an inspiring presentation from Army Ranger Keni Thomas, who was a member of the harrowing 1993 military mission in Somalia that was recounted in the movie Blackhawk Down. Learn more about the event at

Grocery Manufacturers Association CEO To Retire

Grocery Manufacturers Association CEO Pamela Bailey will retire later this year, following ten years of leading the organization. Bailey will continue in her role as CEO while the association’s board of directors searches for her replacement. In a statement, the association thanked Bailey for her service, saying her leadership was “valuable during an evolving time in the industry.” During Bailey’s tenure, GMA led the industry in supporting modernization of the nation’s food and product safety laws and regulations, resulting in the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The retirement announcement comes as a handful of member-companies have dropped their membership since the GMO labeling law was signed by then-President Barack Obama. Companies within the food industry have been unable to come to a consensus of opinion on GMO labeling.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service