U.S. Food & Agriculture Dialogue for Trade

On August 30, NAEGA President and CEO Gary Martin co-chaired a meeting of the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade at the American Farm Bureau Federation. During the meeting, the Dialogue welcomed USDA Chief of Staff Ray Starling to discuss the Administration’s positions on trade, its efforts to expand U.S. market access for agriculture goods, the status of trade agreement talks with various nations, and details of the USDA’s recent trade mitigation package. The Dialogue also heard updates from the chairs of the Asia-Pacific and North American Market Working Groups and discussed plans for future meetings.

USDA Launches Trade Mitigation Programs

On September 4, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue launched the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) trade mitigation programs aimed at assisting farmers suffering from unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. In July, the USDA announced it would authorize up to $12 billion in programs to mitigate retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. agriculture.

The following programs will be used to assist agricultural producers:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) began administering the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat producers on September 4, 2018.  The USDA will spend $4.7 billion in this first payment period.  The second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by USDA.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is administering a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by retaliatory tariffs. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs.
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.

MFP applications are currently available online at Producers can submit their MFP applications in person at a local FSA office, by email, fax, or by mail. For more information about the three programs listed above, please click here.

United States-Mexico Trade Agreement

On August 31, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a notice of intention to enter into a trade agreement with Mexico – the bilateral “United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.” In the notice the Trump Administration indicated that this agreement, which is set to supersede the U.S.-Mexico commitments under NAFTA and resulted from ongoing NAFTA negotiations, was still open for Canada to join.  The notice sets off a 90-day Congressionally mandated window before the President can sign the agreement.

The deal includes significant efforts to address agricultural non-tariff barriers. In addition, it weakens NAFTA dispute settlement provisions and introduces a six-year review process. Other details of the agreement include:

  • Zero tariffs on agricultural products traded between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • Instead, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to a 16-year lifespan for the agreement, with a review every six years that can extend the pact for 16 years more.
  • Eliminating NAFTA’s Chapter 19, a settlement system for anti-dumping disputes.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian trade negotiators remain in Washington to continue bilateral talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to explore the possibility of signing on to the agreement. Both the U.S. and Mexico worked to reach this deal by the end of August, giving Trump enough time to notify Congress of the finalized deal and have the deal signed by current Mexican President Nieto before President-elect Lopez Obrador takes office on December 1.