World Grain Forum

On November 16-21 Gary Martin, acting in his role as President of the IGTC, traveled to Sochi, Russia to attend the 2nd Annual World Grain Forum. Invited to Sochi by the Russian Grain Union, Gary represented IGTC members and policy files during all meetings and presentations, including 5 press interviews and during networking with Russian officials and grain trade personnel. During the grain forum Gary also acted as a moderator on a panel entitled The World Grain Market: Long-term Trends and Forecasts, presented on electronic documentation during round table on Phytosanitary Control: Role in Creating Favorable Conditions for International Grain Trade and attended a business breakfast with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. represented NAEGA and the IGTC at the November 18-19. More details on these and other IGTC actions in Sochi can be found in the trip report here. A copy of Gary’s presentation can be found here.

U.S. Government Transition

NAEGA Continues to monitor developments in the U.S. Government transition, including nominations by the President-elect. Nominations hearings will begin in the U.S. Senate this week, and so far, NAEGA understands the following nominations have been made: 
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U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade

NAEGA is continuing and expanding its work to lead  a broad-based group of industry stakeholders in US Food and Agriculture Trade. As part of this effort, NAEGA President and CEO Gary Martin, along with Bill Westman, Vice-President of the North American Meat Institute, convened a U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade at Arent Fox, LLP on Thursday, January 5. The Dialog works to inform the broadest set of stakeholders as possible on all policy specific efforts and relevant information while attempting to engage with Government officials whenever welcome, possible and practical


At the Dialogue session, former NAEGA outside counsel Marc Flieschacker led a panel of Arent Fox attorneys including Partner Matt Clark, , Former Congressman Phil English and Keith Huffman that provide information and perspective on the  changes that the new administration and Congress could immediately make to U.S. trade policy, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Following the Arent Fox team we heard about how the US Congress plans to proceed from Everett Eissenstat, Chief International Trade Counsel at the Senate Finance Committee, and Steve Claeys, Trade Counsel at the House Ways and Means Committee.


Dialogue participants considered a path forward for the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade in 2017. Many expressed interest in supporting trade in coordination with the Dialog, including addressing potential policy changes in the Asia/Pacific and North America directly with the Trump Administration.


Letter to the Transition Team

Gary and Bill have sent a letter to President-elect Trump requesting a listening session to convey information on why U.S. Agriculture international trade is critically important, has done very well, can be expected to create even more jobs and economic growth and needs to be considered before new policy actions are taken.  


If a listening session can be scheduled with the transition team, Gary and Bill will gather feedback amongst the Trade Dialogue and act on a response. Meanwhile, NAEGA and members of the Dialogue are working closely with like-minded stakeholders on communication efforts regarding trade policy in North America and the Asia-Pacific.



In additions to efforts related to the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, NAEGA is monitoring the U.S. government transition related to relations with Cuba. Much of President Obama’s efforts to liberalize trade and investment with Cuba over the last two years have occurred via executive action, making them liable for immediate repeal by the Administration of President-elect Trump. These include travel, diplomatic relations, and administrative coordination.


In particular, NAEGA is monitoring how changes to the “180-day rule” administered by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) could affect members. The 180-day Rule states that any vessel that enters Cuba for the purpose of trading goods and/or services of any kind is prohibited from entering the U.S. to load or unload freight for 180 days after leaving Cuba. However, agricultural commodities currently enjoy an exception to the rule under Cuba Asset Control Regulations (CACR). Removal of the exception by the future administration could have direct impact on members, particularly those scheduling vessels that have recently called on Cuba in the first few months of the new administration. An announcement from the Obama Administration regarding the 180 Day rule is rumored to be coming before January 20.


For more information on these regulations, please visit the OFAC website or refer to these FAQs on Cuba sanctions.

IGTC Working Visit

On January 30-February 15 Katy Lee, Secretariat of the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) will travel to Delhi and Mumbai, India to conduct a working visit with IGTC members the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) and the Solvent Extractors Association of India. During her time there, Katy will conduct bilateral meeting with government and industry representatives to discuss IGTC policy files and priorities. In addition, on February 1-3 Katy will attend the Global Grain, Food and Feed Conference (G2F2) in Delhi to meet with Indian industry and represent the IGTC. 


A Notice to Post for this upcoming travel will be available soon. Please contact Gary or Ryan if you have any questions.

APHIS Releases Updated Coordinated Framework

On January 4, the EPA, FDA, and USDA released the final Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology for 2017 as well as the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products. The 2017 Update is the first document in decades to comprehensively summarize of the roles and responsibilities of the three regulatory agencies with regard to regulation biotechnology products. NAEGA was closely involved in developing comments to the Obama Administration’s update of the Coordinated Framework, including these comments submitted to the White House Office of Science and Technology in November 2017.

More information on update to the Coordinated Framework can be found here on the White House official website.

FGIS Inspection and Service Fees

On December 30, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) reduced its Official Inspection and Weighing Fees for 2017 based on operating reserves that exceed 4.5 months of operating expenses. However, FGIS also announced that it is increasing its National Tonnage fee to $.006, almost ten percent from 2016. This increased tonnage fee for 2017 reflect a nearly 16 percent increase in FGIS administrative costs in 2016, from $6.2 million in 2015 to $7.2 million last year.

Throughout implementation of the 2015 Grain Standards Act, which adjusted how FGIS determines fees, NAEGA and NGFA have continually urged the FGIS to bring its field office expenses, and resultant fees, in line with those of official agencies that provide inspection and weighing services, including through these comments on Grain Standards Act implementation