Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has introduced H.R. 2702, the "Agricultural Trade Facilitation Act." The legislation establishes specific trade negotiating objectives for the United States in an attempt to limit exposure to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers in future trade agreements. The trade negotiation objectives included:
• Strengthen the requirement that the application of measures is based on scientific evidence;
• Encourage parties to the agreement to participate actively in the development of the international standards relating to the application of measures and to apply those standards whenever appropriate;
• Improve regulatory coherence and increase the use of systems-based approaches;
• Require greater transparency in the development and implementation of the measures;
• Require parties to the agreement to carry out risk analysis in a timely manner, consistent with the guidelines developed by relevant international organizations;
• Improve rules governing the testing of imported products;
• Promote the harmonization of export certification requirements; and
• Ensure that new SPS trade obligations are fully enforced.
A group of agricultural and food organizations sent a letter in support of this legislation. They said the legislation "sets out to strengthen the position of the U.S. government in its negotiating position on SPS measures to ensure SPS rules in our trade agreements with our partners are science-based, transparent, effective and enforceable." Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industry Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cotton Council, National Farmers Union, National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation.
China-Japan Beef Access – Thirty-nine senators have written Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Ron Kirk asking for immediate follow-up with China and Japan on greater market access for U.S. beef. The senators said, "We believe continuous, high-level engagement by USTR and USDA is critical to making progress toward ending China and Japan's unscientific restrictions to U.S. beef products. In the case of South Korea, the aggressive and sustained engagement by the administration and Congress was vital to reopening this market to U.S. beef under 30 months of age in 2008." The letter was originated by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Pat Roberts (R-KS), ranking member of the committee.
Farm Production Expenditures Up in 2010 – USDA’s "Farm Production Expenditures 2010" summary shows that U.S. farmers reported spending $289 billion to produce agricultural products. This compares to $287.4 billion for the prior year. Highlights from the 2010 summary include:
• Farm expenditures of $45.4 billion for feed, $35.7 billion for farm services and $27.4 billion on labor. The three categories account for over a third of all expenses incurred by producers in 2010.
• Livestock farm expenditures of $130.6 billion, up 1.3% from the previous year.
• Crop farm expenditures of $158.4 billion, a slight decrease from 2009.
• The largest increase in expenditures (7.3%) on farms in the southern region.
• An increase of 1.5% in farm expenditures reported by Atlantic region farms.
• A significant decrease in the amount spent on farm improvements and construction. Producers spent $12.6 billion on these expenditures, $1.5 billion less than in 2009.
P. Scott Shearer