Chinese Cochran Fellows

On April 20 NAEGA welcomed a group of nine Chinese plant protection and quarantine officials currently touring the U.S. as part of the USDA’s Cochran Fellowship. The fellows, all officials at the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine are in the U.S. to learn how U.S. inspection and food safety laws/regulations are created, monitored and enforced on a national and port level.  The goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness of U.S. port inspections and U.S. food safety regulations along with the safety of U.S. food products from the farm all the way to the port.

During the meeting, Gary, Ryan and Jess McCluer with the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) briefed the fellows on the unique components of the North American grain system, including the bulk, comingled supply chain. In addition, the Chinese group was briefed on the Food Safety Modernization Act and U.S. industry compliance.

A copy of the presentation is available here.

Lighthizer Confirmation Letter

This week, NAEGA signed a letter organized by the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade that calls for the Senate to confirm Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative. The letter highlights the importance of international trade as a part of the U.S. economy and emphasizes the urgency of renegotiating NAFTA and pursuing additional bi-lateral trade agreements “to secure the greatest possible benefits for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.” A copy of the draft is available here.

Pakistan MB Fumigation

NAEGA is now advising the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regarding the detection of weed seeds and bacteria in shipments of soybeans and soybean products to Pakistan. Over the last couple of weeks APHIS has been in contact with the Pakistan Department of Plant Protection (DPP) regarding the detection of cockle bur (Xanthium sp.) and Stewarts Wilt in shipments of soybeans and DDGs. As a result, PPD had initially requested that shipments of U.S. origin soybeans and soybean meal be treated with methyl bromide fumigation to devitalize cockle bur seeds. In more recent discussions, during which APHIS educated PPD on manufacturing and end use processes for DDGs and soybeans, PPD has shown increased flexibility regarding methyl bromide fumigation. As of this week, APHIS is continuing to dialogue with PPD regarding shipments of this kind, and PPD looks willing to avoid trade disruptions. In addition, PPD is interested in traveling to the U.S. to conduct a pest risk analysis.

APHIS is requesting from industry additional information on the end use of soybean and SBM shipments to Pakistan. If you have any information you would like to share with PPD, please contact Ryan.

A copy of APHIS meeting notes from calls with PPD can be found here.

GOA Report on USAID Food Assistance

Earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released a report on the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) implementation and oversight of additional food aid flexibility authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The report offers the first comprehensive look into the extent USAID is using the new authority to provide cash transfers, food vouchers, and locally or regionally procured (LRP) food—rather than U.S.-grown commodities—to those in need across the globe. A press release on the GOA Food Aid Report can be found here.

Proposal for Rules for International Business and Human Rights Arbitration

An Independent International Working Group led by specialists from Sweden, the Netherlands, are developing a draft proposal for an International Business and Humans Rights Arbitration system for businesses and victims of human rights violations. The system would allow businesses and individuals to voluntarily agree to bring disputes to the international arbitration. The Working Group has proposed drafting a specialized set of arbitration rules to resolve disputes of human rights abuses by businesses. Reasons for proposing a draft include greater procedural transparency and permitting multiple victims to aggregate claims. The proposal, which can be found here, is currently open for comment.