May 29, 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.


Senate Ag Committee Fields Hearing on Livestock Challenges – Audio

The Senate Ag Committee on Thursday held a hearing on the challenges and opportunities facing livestock and poultry producers. Chairman Pat Roberts noted in his opening comments that it was the first such hearing in five years.

Congress is examining volatility in the livestock markets from a number of angles, with the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hosting a similar hearing earlier this week.

Testifying at both hearings was Tracy Brunner, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

He told lawmakers that the NCBA and CME are looking at potential changes to help ensure the futures market works for cattle producers. They believe part of the increase in volatility in the futures market has to do with high frequency trading.

Brunner on HFT

High Frequency Trading is utilized throughout all financial markets, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has been keeping an eye on it, too.

Brunner on Market Data

Brunner is a rancher and cattle feeder from Kansas.   Also on Thursday’s panel was Joe Goggins, a cattle producer and auctioneer from Montana, and a member of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.  He told lawmakers that the futures market in Chicago simply isn’t reflective of the cash market fundamentals in cattle country.

Goggins on Stability

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association would like to see price reporting modernized, as well as stricter enforcement of the current Packers and Stockyards Act.