October 28, 2016

Former Clinton Trade Advisor Says Lame Duck Session Last Chance For TPP

PNW The former Agriculture Department trade chief in the Bill Clinton administration does not see the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal happening in a Hillary Clinton White House. If there were ever a time for Congress to pass the TPP, Paul Drazek says that’s in a lame-duck session—just the opposite of what longtime Republican agriculture Senator Chuck Grassley said earlier this week.

Drazek, who advised Clinton USDA Secretary Dan Glickman on agricultural trade, says after inauguration day, TPP’s chances could be non-existent…

Drazek TPP 1

Drazek argues that would be a very damaging outcome for U.S. relations in the Asia Pacific region.

Both presidential candidates argue TPP is flawed and needs fixes. Drazek says any changes to TPP are unlikely…

Drazek TPP 2

Some TPP nations are already working on a regional trade deal with China and Drazek says imposing tariffs on imports will only raise U.S. consumer prices, cost jobs and invite retaliation.

But he concedes, crafting better trade deals is hard, so without presidential support, agriculture may have to wait until next time.





What Dad Wants His Daughter to Stand Around in a Cold Meat Locker? A Master Butcher Visits NDSU

Some people who are cutting meat in stores today may not have a deep background or knowledge of how a beef carcass is put together and how or why meat is cut the way it is.

That’s why the North Dakota Beef Commission, North Dakota Grocers Association, North Dakota State University Meat Scientists and Cargill Meats coordinated a beef-centric seminar featuring third-generation Master Butcher Kari Underly.  She was instrumental in making the flat iron steak a household name. meats-3

Underly is from Chicago. Her dad was a butcher….her grandma was a butcher…..and she’s a Chicago Cubs baseball fan.  We visited with her at Sheppard Arena on the NDSU campus.

Kari Underly Educates at NDSU Meat Lab

Underly is the author of the James Beard nominated book “The Art of Beef Cutting.”

meats-2Nancy Jo Bateman, executive director of the North Dakota Beef Commission, said the hope was that participants will leave with a better understanding of beef production, the beef carcass and beef cuts.

Nancy Jo Bateman

Demand for this type of programming was so high, North Dakota Grocers Association President Roger Larson said a second day was added to accommodate all of the interest.

Grocers President Roger Larson

The program was funded, primarily, by North Dakota beef producers through the state and national beef checkoff program.

Beef Cuts



Updated GIPSA Rules Move On Minus Support From Livestock Groups

Livestock groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council and the North American Meat Institute may not support the proposed changes, but last week USDA forwarded a long pending update to the GIPSA Act onto the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for economic evaluation.  The biggest change to the GIPSA Act is referred to as the “Farmers Fair Practices Rules,” which would effectively eliminate the need for producers to provide proof of competitive injury in order to file a complaint.  The other two changes involve new rules regarding unfair practices and preference and the elimination of the poultry grower ranking systems.

A statement from NCBA on the subject states the new rules are “are another government solution in search of a problem.  They will limit produce marketing options, compel buyers to offer lower bids across the board in order to avoid the appearance of preference and create an environment ripe for baseless legal challenge.  We have always said that the GIPSA rules set out in a trial lawyers bonanza and that is as true today as it was in 2010.”

Debate over the revamp of GIPSA goes back to the 2008 farm bill which required Congress to update the act in order to bring it in line with developing marketing systems and technology.  The original attempt was made back in 2010 but we quickly defunded by Congress after the proposed rules met opposition.  However, US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the 2016 rule changes have dropped some of the provisions that caused controversy in the past including rules that would have prevented meatpackers from buying livestock from other packers, banned packers from exclusive agreements, and a requirement that packers and live poultry dealers submit sample contracts to USDA for public review.  An original study by Informa Economics back in 2010 stated proposed changes to the rule would cost the industry.  No new study has been done at this point to provide an updated estimate.

Still, the rule is not without support.  Longtime Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from the nation’s largest hog producing state of Iowa offered his support to the rule last week.  In a speech last week, he said that the proposed rule would give family farmers more confidence in the markets by seeking to balance relationships between producers and the companies that purchase their animals.

The National Farmers Union also backs the rule, saying the Farmers Fair Practices Rule would provide needed contract protections for livestock and poultry growers.  NFU President Roger Johnson said “Livestock Producers and poultry growers have been waiting too long for much needed protections against the fraudulent, anti competitive practices they fall victim too in the market place, we applaud USDA for staying committed to publishing rules that seek to protect producers, growers, consumers, and the industry alike.”

While Secretary Vilsacks says the proposed rules have been forwarded on for evaluation, he also wrote in a letter to livestock groups that USDA will provide additional opportunity for comment given the high level of interest in the changes.