May 31, 2016

Chief Ag Negotiator Darci Vetter Said Agriculture Key To T-TIP Talks

VetterAgriculture has been skeptical thus far of trade negotiations with the European Union, but the administration’s top agricultural negotiator hopes they come around and support a potential agreement.

Ag groups lined up to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but haven’t been as vocal in their support of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU. Representatives from many of the groups told Agri-Pulse they were concerned an agreement with the EU would have to include too many concessions to get over the finish line.

Ambassador Darci Vetter, the chief agricultural negotiator with the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, says support from American agriculture would be key for a potential T-TIP agreement…


Vetter T-TIP 1

Much like Japan agreed to open up their sacred products in TPP negotiations, Vetter says there is a chance EU officials could be open to a wide range of discussions…

Vetter T-TIP 2

But it looks to be unlikely that the Obama administration will be the around to finish up the talks, and Vetter says that there will be a delay in installing a new USTR team no matter who is elected…

Vetter T-Tip 3

Whoever takes Vetter’s place would require Senate confirmation. The same goes for the next U.S. Trade Representative, a role currently occupied by Ambassador Michael Froman.


Waterway Bill Defeated By House Ahead Of Memorial Day Holiday

MississippiA key bill to modernize locks failed in the United States House in an embarrassing defeat for Republican leadership.  G-O-P rank and file largely abandoned the bill over a controversial amendment.

It should have been routine. The bill contained $6 billion for Army Corps civil works, and more than $370 million for inland waterways projects.

But, in a year of the unpredictable and even absurd, the locks bill is ‘dead in the water’ over an LGBT bathroom rights amendment, falling 112-305 with Republicans largely bolting.

Debra Calhoun is the Waterways Council Senior Vice President…

Calhoun – Waterway Defeat 1

Even more problematic for House Speaker Paul Ryan is the collapse of the appropriations process, with ag, interior, and most other spending bills unfinished.  He’s planning a “family discussion” with the G-O-P rank and file after the Memorial Day recess.  Calhoun says…

Calhoun – Waterway Defeat 2

Which Calhoun says could actually be better for locks modernization, with $30 million more in the Fiscal Year 2016 law, than the recently passed Fiscal Year 2017 bill.

Separately, House Transportation and Infrastructure advanced the latest water resources development, or “WRDA” bill, rejecting lockage fees or tolls to finance projects on the Illinois waterway.  75 farm and other groups opposed the fees.


Minnesota Soybean Producers Have Their Eye on Cuba

The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council received an invitation to take part in a White House trade meeting about Cuba this week.

Supporters of completely lifting the trade embargo on Cuba say opening the door to U.S. ag exports could reap substantial gains for U.S. farmers. The embargo’s ban on credit deals is a strong headwind facing increased trade.  Most of Cuba’s large ag trading partners, like Canada and France, have provided export credits over the years to Cuba’s Alimport, the agency that oversees ag deals.

Paul Simonsen is a soybean producer from Renville County, near Fairfax, MN. He’s Chair of the Market Development Committee, and Past President, of the MSRPC.  He headed to Washington, DC, on Tuesday afternoon.

Minnesota Soybean – Cuba Trade 1

In 2014, poultry, meat and related products accounted for nearly half of U.S. ag exports to Cuba, and soybean-related products were another 35 percent in terms of total dollars. That year Cuba was the eighth-largest export market for U.S. poultry.

Minnesota Soybean – Cuba Trade 2

The U.S. was once the leading supplier of bulk commodities to Cuba, such as rice, wheat and corn. Today, Vietnam is Cuba’s biggest rice supplier, Canada and the European Union dominate the wheat trade, while Brazil and Argentina are the biggest suppliers for corn.