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

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

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Perdue: Farmers Can’t Pay Bills on Patriotism

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday called farmers “some of the best patriots in America,” while speaking at an event, but said farmers “can’t pay the bills with patriotism.” Perdue made the comments at Axios 360, an event held by news website Axios, in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning. Perdue says farmers and ranchers are “bearing the brunt” of the ongoing trade disputes between the United States and others, like China. Many of the retaliatory tariffs from U.S. trading partners due to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs are on U.S. agricultural products. Also attending the event were former U.S. Trade Representative Mike Kirk and House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway. Conaway told attendees that: “I can’t un-roil the waters on trade, but I can get this farm bill done.” A vote to send the farm bill to conference is expected sometime this week in the House of Representatives, or at the latest, early next week.

U.S. Says Retaliatory Tariffs Unjustified in WTO Complaint

The U.S. struck back at retaliating nations this week, filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. The U.S. complaint says the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration were justified, but claim retaliation in response to the tariffs from trading partners was not justified. The complaint includes China, the European Union, Turkey, Canada and Mexico. In a statement from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, USTR Robert Lighthizer said of the retaliation: “These tariffs appear to breach each WTO Member’s commitments under the WTO Agreement.” Specifically, Lighthizer says the retaliations are designed to punish American workers, farmers and companies. In the statement, Lighthizer says the U.S. will “take all necessary actions to protect our interests,” while urging the five WTO members named in the complaint to “work constructively” with the United States to resolve the matter.

Mexico and Canada Want NAFTA Conclusion This Year

Mexico and Canada want to wrap up the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement this year, according to the Hagstrom Report. While in Washington, D.C. this week, The Mexican ambassador to the United States says the incoming Mexican president wants NAFTA to “be completed before he takes office on December 1.” An official from Canada said the nation would welcome completion of the agreement this year. The talks, however, appear to stall and avoid highly contentious issues, while missing tentative deadlines repeatedly. For agriculture, Canada maintains that any proposed changes to Canada’s dairy supply management system are “unacceptable.” Canada points out it is the second largest export market for U.S. dairy products after Mexico, and that the products enter Canada duty-free.

FDA To Crackdown on Non-dairy Products Labeling

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb (Got-leeb) told a Washington, D.C. event Tuesday the FDA will crack down on the use of the term “milk” for nondairy products. As reported by Politico, Gottlieb told the Politico Pro Summit the agency will soon issue a guidance document outlining changes to its so-called standards of identity policies for marketing milk, a perceived win for the U.S. dairy industry. Gottlieb told the event: “An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess,” referring to almond milk and the FDA standards for milk that reference products from lactating animals. The dairy industry, in an economic downfall, has petitioned the FDA to enforce those standards, but the agency had yet to address the issue.

Iowa Congressional Delegation Invites EPA Acting Administrator to Iowa

The entire Iowa Congressional delegation has invited U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to Iowa to meet with those who directly rely on the Renewable Fuel Standard. In a letter to Wheeler, the delegation called renewable fuels “critical to achieving energy independence in the United States,” while highlighting the importance of the RFS to Iowa’s economy. The letter, signed by Iowa Congressman David Young, and others, discussed the delegation’s concern about the number of small refinery “hardship” waivers issued in 2016 and 2017. The delegation also asked Wheeler to reconsider the proposed rule and to account for any waived RFS obligations so they do not reduce the overall level of renewable fuels blended. Wheeler is serving as the acting administrator of EPA, taking the post following the resignation of former administrator Scott Pruitt. The EPA vastly expanded the hardship waivers under Pruitt’s watch.

Non GMO Verifier Global ID Becomes FoodChain ID

Global ID Group, based in Fairfield, Iowa has rebranded as FoodChain ID. Formerly, the organization was comprised of three distinct divisions: Genetic ID, CertID and FoodChain ID. Company leaders say the change “satisfies a need expressed by our largest customers,” of being able to utilize the services of all three divisions via a single point of contact. The former Global ID Group has spent more than 20 years offering specialized services for the food, beverage, ingredient and food component industries, spanning the entire food supply chain. One of the company’s most popular services is the Non-GMO Project verification service, which is now the “most widely recognized standard” in North America for verifying Non-GMO food production operations. Since 2007, FoodChain ID has verified the majority of the Non-GMO Project Verified market in North America-over 50,000 products representing thousands of brands.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service