By Tom Sleight, USGC President and CEO
Inattention, indifference and inaction are no longer options for those in agriculture with regard to our nation’s foreign policy. Just as producers must watch daily their weather, crop conditions and commodity prices, so too must they track policy developments around the world that will make or break the markets for the bountiful crops they are so efficient at producing.
When trade policy works, the world wins. But how does trade policy happen?
In a new, four-part audio series, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) tackles this question as well as explaining why trade policy matters to U.S. agriculture, how trade negotiations work and why developing and expanding markets for U.S. coarse grains and co-products would not be possible without strong trade policy.
Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the U.S. Grains Council are calling upon the U.S. government to develop an immediate response to Brazil’s newly implemented tariffs on U.S. ethanol imports, a trade barrier that threatens over $750 million in U.S. exports and American jobs.
The government of Tanzania removed a cost-prohibitive value-added tax on the sale of animal feed earlier this summer in part thanks to the combined efforts of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Tanzanian poultry and animal feed industry associations.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced this week it would begin a reexamination of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) by formally notifying South Korea the United States will call a special joint committee meeting to discuss the trade agreement and consider changes.
Recent moves to again harden the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba will block near-term sales of U.S. feed grains as well as stymie long-term market development. Despite these factors, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) plans to continue its long-time work in Cuba, driven by members’ core belief that trade is critical for improving U.S.-Cuba relations and the welfare of the Cuban people.
With the swearing in of Robert Lighthizer as the new U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Monday, the United States has its chief negotiator in place to help protect and expand markets for U.S. feed grains and value-added products around the world.
On Thursday, the Trump Administration formally informed Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Below is a statement from Chip Councell, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and a farmer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland:
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Sonny Perdue announced Thursday the Department’s plan to reorganize, including to create an undersecretary-level position focused on trade and foreign agricultural affairs.
Recent events in foreign policy and the ongoing conversation about the value of U.S. trade agreements have put a spotlight on South Korea as a close U.S. ally and an important customer for U.S. products, including grains.
South Korea is now the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports, totaling $6.2 billion in purchases in 2016. The country was the fourth largest importer of both U.S. corn and distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as the seventh largest importer of U.S. barley in the 2015/2016 marketing year.