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steel tariffs imposes by President Trump may cause trade wars Getty Images/Lukas Schulze

Trump delays aluminum and steel tariffs for Canada, Mexico and EU

Legislative Watch: Tariffs delayed for Canada, Mexico, EU; House urged to leave crop insurance alone; biotech labeling proposed; trade impact on ag stressed; Barbic confirmed.

The White House announced on Monday that President Trump was delaying imposing tariffs on U.S. imports of aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union for 30 days. The EU has developed a list of retaliatory tariffs worth approximately $3.5 billion it will impose if EU steel and aluminum are not exempted.

The administration says it had also reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil on aluminum and steel that is expected to be announced in the near future. Earlier the United States and South Korea reached an agreement on steel imports after agreeing on a revised trade agreement.

In announcing Trump’s decision, the White House says, “in all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment and protect the national security.”

As this continues to play out, U.S. agriculture continues to be concerned it will bear the brunt of any retaliation.

Ag groups say keep crop insurance
As the House of Representatives prepares to consider the farm bill this month, a coalition of 65 farm and agribusiness groups is urging the House of Representatives to vote against any amendment that would cut the crop insurance program.

In a letter to the members of the House, the group urged them to oppose any “harmful” amendments to crop insurance that would reduce or limit participation in crop insurance; make insurance more expensive for farmers during this economic downturn in agriculture; or harm private-sector delivery. The letter says, “Crop insurance is food and fiber security insurance, and food and fiber security is national security.”

Those signing the letter include the American Bankers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Ducks Unlimited, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Farmers Union and The Fertilizer Institute.

USDA proposes biotech labeling rule
USDA released its proposed rule, the “National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard,” for disclosing genetically engineered food ingredients. USDA says the standard will “provide a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs.”

There is a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule. USDA says it would not extend the comment period because of the Congressionally mandated timeline established in 2016.

World Trade Month
May is World Trade Month and the USDA is highlighting the importance of trade to U.S. agriculture. U.S. agricultural exports totaled $138.4 billion in 2017. According to USDA, these exports supported over 1.1 million American jobs throughout the entire economy.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says, “As World Trade Month begins, we recognize the vital role trade plays in supporting U.S. agriculture, rural America and our economy. America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers feed, fuel and clothe our nation and the rest of the world. Since day one I’ve said I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy, and I’m proud of the progress we make each day serving our customers, selling our products around the world, and working to protect and preserve our agricultural interests.”

Barbic confirmed as USDA Congressional Relations assistant secretary
The Senate has confirmed Ken Barbic as USDA’s assistant secretary for Congressional Relations. Previously, Barbic served as a senior director for Western Growers Association. He has also served as deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs and as a legislative assistant with the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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