Asia trade important to U.S. agriculture

Legislative Watch: Importance of Asian markets stressed; Trump needs to address China ethanol tariffs; RFS reform introduced; Trump executive order challenged.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

February 17, 2017

3 Min Read
Asia trade important to U.S. agriculture
National Pork Board

Since the United States has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, U.S. agriculture is reminding the Trump administration of the importance of trade with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the industry’s interest in working with the administration to build strong trade relationships with the world’s largest market for U.S. food and agriculture.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, 87 agricultural companies and organizations say, “Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers in our sector compete, creating an opportunity to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods. We hope your administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors. While many in our sector strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we hope future agreements build upon the valuable aspects of that agreement to increase our market access in the Asia-Pacific.”

Those signing the letter include American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation, National Renderers Association, North American Meat Institute, Pet Food Institute and the U. S. Meat Export Federation.

Ethanol industry asks for Trump to address China ethanol and DDGS tariffs

The U.S. ethanol industry is calling on the administration to “urgently” address China’s recent implementation of trade barriers that is “shutting out U.S. exports of ethanol and distillers dried grains.”

China has increased its DDGS anti-dumping duty to 42.2-53.7% and its DDGS countervailing duty to 11.2-12% and the tariffs on U.S. ethanol has gone from 5% to 30-40%. The U.S. Grains Council, Renewable Fuels Association, and Growth Energy are asking that the new U.S. Trade Representative put this issue at the top of the list in dealing with China trade issues.

In a letter to the president, the group says, “it is wildly believed that raising these tariffs will put an immediate end to ethanol exports to China erasing the significant progress our industry made in developing that market over the past several years. We respectfully ask that reform of these punitive ethanol tariff rates be included in any potential upcoming trade negotiations with China.”

In 2015, China imported 51% of total U.S. DDGS exports worth $1.6 billion and in 2016 China was the third largest market for U.S. ethanol exports worth $300 million.

RFS reform legislation introduced

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced bills to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard and the national biofuels mandate. The legislation calls for additional study and evaluation of the RFS and ensure the Environmental Protection Agency’s volume obligations for biofuels are based in reality.

The RFS legislation requires the National Academy of Sciences to provide a comprehensive assessment of research on the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends, fuel containing more than 10% ethanol by volume, compared to gasoline blends containing 10% ethanol or 0% ethanol. The study is to evaluate the performance, safety and environmental impact of mid-level ethanol blended fuels.

The legislation regarding cellulosic biofuel eases the EPA’s volume requirement for cellulosic biofuel under the RFS to what is commercially available until the National Academy of Sciences submits to Congress a report on the environmental and economic impacts of cellulosic biofuel and the feasibility of large scale commercial production.

Environmental and labor file suit against administration’s regulations order

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen and Communication Workers of America filed suit against President Trump’s executive order requiring federal agencies to eliminate two existing regulations for every new one adopted.

The NRDC’s concern is this action oversteps the president’s authority and would require agencies to fall short of their legal obligation to protect the public, especially EPA, Food & Drug Administration and Department of Interior. The NRDC says, “New efforts to stop pollution don’t automatically make old ones unnecessary. When you make policy by tweet, it yields irrational rules. This order imposes a false choice between clean air, clean water, safe food and other environmental safeguards.”

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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