As negotiations continue on Russia’s efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and 26 other senators are asking U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk to further open the Russian market for American pork. In a letter to Kirk, the senators outlined two major barriers that U.S. pork faces with Russia: 1) Russia has continued to lower the United States share of the global import tariff-rate quota from 100,000 metric tons (110,000 tons) to 57,500 metric tons, (63,250 tons) and 2) Russia’s use of sanitary restrictions to limit U.S. pork exports to Russia. Senators urged USTR to "work toward encouraging Russia to ease the unwarranted restrictions and abide by commitments" as a precursor to joining the WTO. Senator Nelson said, "Russia’s restrictions on American pork not only violate WTO rules, but are harmful to the Nebraska pork industry and the U.S. pork industry." Senator Grassley said, "Russia's unjustified position against U.S. pork has blocked products from plants that account for 60% of U.S. pork production capacity. Russia wants to join the World Trade Organization. One of the issues Russia needs to address before joining is its unwarranted barriers to U.S. pork."
Senate Bill Limits Use of Antibiotics – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced legislation to limit the use of antibiotics in animals. Senator Feinstein said, "The effectiveness of antibiotics for humans is jeopardized when they are used to fatten healthy pigs or speed the growth of chickens. This is a basic food safety initiative that would phase out the misuse of these drugs so that food in supermarkets across America will not spread strains of drug-resistant bacteria." The legislation, "The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA)," would:
• Phase out non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in livestock;
• Require new applications for animal antibiotics to demonstrate the use of the antibiotic will not endanger public health; and
• Not restrict the use of antibiotics to treat sick livestock or pets.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
Biodiesel Tax Credit – Congressmen Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) have introduced the "Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act" (H.R. 2238). The legislation extends the $1-per-gallon tax incentive on biodiesel to a production excise tax credit to 2014.
G20 Report Says Drop Biofuels Support – A report prepared for the G-20 meeting in Paris recommended that major governments drop their support for biofuels. The report was developed by 10 international agencies, including the World Trade Organization, World Bank and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which linked the biofuels standards and subsidies with higher food costs. The report said, "If oil prices are high and a crop’s value in the energy market exceeds that in the food markets, crops will be diverted to the production of biofuels, which will increase the price of food. Changes in the price of oil can be abrupt and may cause increased food price volatility." However, at the G-20 meeting, the member countries adopted the following statement on biofuels, "Our work to support innovation in the development of non-food feedstocks and next-generation renewable fuels will continue to help offset instability in the energy market, which accounts for the bulk of food and commodity price fluctuations in the past decade."
P. Scott Shearer