U.S., Canada, Mexico announce USMCA trade deal

On Sunday, September 30 the United States, Canada, and Mexico announced that they have reached a deal to update NAFTA after over one year of negotiations. The revised NAFTA will now be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Several highlights of the USMCA include increased access for U.S. dairy, poultry and eggs into Canada, improved labor and environmental rights, and increased intellectual property provisions. Canada agreed to non-discriminatory wheat grading. The USMCA also included a robust biotechnology section within which a working group for cooperation on agricultural biotechnology was created. For now, the United States’ 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum from Canada and Mexico remain in place.

The release of the text by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative triggers a 60-day review period before President Trump can sign the agreement. The review period ends on November 30, allowing the USMCA to be signed by the current Mexican administration before the new administration takes office on December 1. Find the full text of the agreement here.

USAEDC Conference – Baltimore, MD – November 14-16

On November 14-16 Ryan Olson, NAEGA Director of Operations, will travel to Baltimore, MD to participate in the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council’s (USAEDC) annual conference. A copy of the agenda for this conference will be shared when it is available. While in Baltimore, Ryan will also represent NAEGA and participate in the USAEDC’s biannual Board of Directors meeting.

IGTC Meetings with ISF – Berlin, Germany – October 19-20

On October 19-20 Katy Lee, IGTC Secretariat and Randy Gordon, NGFA President and NAEGA volunteer, will travel to Berlin, Germany to participate in a meeting with the International Seed Federation (ISF). The central theme of the IGTC’s meeting with the ISF will be information sharing on plant breeding innovation for the benefit of the entire agri-food value chain, including consumers. The IGTC will be presenting evidence at this meeting to demonstrate the importance of advance consultation, open dialogue and exchange of information between entities engaged in developing and implementing gene edited traits in grain production, including grain producers, handlers, exporters and importers, and the food and feed and processing sectors.

A copy of the notice to post for this travel can be found here.

IGTC Working Visit – Pretoria, South Africa – October 9-12

On October 9-12 Katy Lee, IGTC Secretariat, will travel to Pretoria, South Africa for a working visit with IGTC member association South Africa Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA). During this visit to South Africa, Ms. Lee will advance NAEGA’s UES objectives focused on support and engagement with the IGTC through here attendance at several meetings and events, including:

  • The South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association’s (SACOTA) annual general meeting on October 10.
  • A presentation to SACOTA on the work of the IGTC, the potential for further collaboration and the potential for funding to implement the projects being driven by the IGTC.
  • Attending a meeting with the South African Department of Agriculture and selected government officials on October 11. During this meeting, Ms. Lee will present the IGTC’s work on a number of issues, such as the implementation of electronic phytosanitary certificates and the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol.

A copy of the notice to post for this travel can be found here.

Presence of Cirsium arvense in Vietnam Shipments

NAEGA is continuing to follow ongoing market access issues regarding weed seed presence in U.S. shipments to Vietnam. On August 21, 2018 USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sent a letter to Hoang Trung, Director General of Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department (PPD) regarding the presence of Cirsium arvense (Canadian thistle) seed in U.S. grain shipments. According to the letter, APHIS is investigating the incidence of Cirsium arvense in U.S. export grain, both through evaluation of available scientific literature on and the grain pathway, and by review of export grain samples over a six year period.


APHIS has been working on the Cirsium arvense issue with Vietnam since June 2018.  Currently, there is a November 1 deadline in place which states that, if Cirsium arvense is detected after this date, consignments will be re-exported, and there will be a risk of suspension of U.S. grain imports. 

Currently, APHIS is engaged on a technical basis, and has proposed a bilateral meeting in the U.S. in early December 2018 to address the issue. In the meantime, APHIS has provided a pathway risk analysis in which it was argued that there is a low risk not only of Canada thistle seed being present in the grain pathway and consequently low risk of entry into Vietnam, but that with Vietnam’s tropical climate, the fragility and low germination of the seed, and the intended use of processing are taken into consideration, there is a very low risk of establishment.  Additionally, APHIS provided an identification key for thistle, noting that there are a number of other thistle seeds sharing much of the same morphology with Cirsium arvense, and inviting a technical exchange.

In response to these claims, Vietnam has stated that there is a high probability of introduction and according to international practice the appropriate level of protection for Cirsium arvense is zero at arrival of all consignments. 

NAEGA continues to monitor this situation and is pressing for a global and across U.S. Government coordinated response. NAEGA believes that Ukraine and Australia have already secured an accommodation.

As this situation continues to develop, NAEGA is seeking member input and recommendations for appropriate paths forward. Additional background information can be found below:

  1. APHIS letter to Vietnam PPD – August 21, 2018
  2. Vietnam PPD letter to APHIS – September 5, 2018
  3. PPD Exporter Announcement of November 1 Deadline

Brazil Working Visit and GLI

On September 16-26 Katy Lee, IGTC Secretariat, traveled to Sao Paulo and Natal in Brazil to conduct a working visit with IGTC member association Associação Nacional dos Exportadores de Cereais (ANEC) and to participate in the 2018 Global Low Level Presence meeting on September 27 and 28.

Working Visit
To begin this mission, the IGTC Secretariat was welcomed by the Associação Nacional dos Exportadores de Cereais (ANEC - during the week of September 18. This working visit provided the IGTC with an opportunity to coordinate with ANEC on IGTC policy files and programs.

This year's GLI meeting took place September 27-28 in Natal, Brazil. During the general session Tyler Bjornson and Krista Thomas of Canada Grains Council (CGC), an IGTC member association, took the floor on behalf of the IGTC to present evidence to an audience of government representatives about the need for science and risk-based LLP policies for grain trade facilitation.

An important element of the industry participation at this event was the revised policy document of the Global Alliance on Ag Biotech Trade (GAABT -, which addresses the potential for trade disruptive situations owing to the asynchronous approval of products of plant biotechnology.

In Brazil, governments worked to establish actions to be completed in the intercessional GLI period; to further regulatory cooperation; and to improve understanding about opportunities and challenges related to adopting the practical approaches to LLP outlined in the GLI statement.

Contracts and Best Practices Seminar – New Orleans

Thank you to all who joined us in Destrehan, LA for a NAEGA Contracts and Best Practices Seminar on Tuesday, October 9 in Destrehan, LA. A special thank you to Bunge North America for donating space to host the seminar. During the seminar, 12 participants received an in-depth review of the global contracting environment, including an update on the new NAEGA 2 Model Contract from NAEGA Senior Advisors Andrew Marting and Sam Bonilla. The seminar also featured interactive activities including a mock arbitration.

IGTC Newsletter

The latest IGTC newsletter is now available! Highlights include an update on the IGTC’s activities in Brazil for a working visit with ANEC and the 2018 GLI meeting, information regarding ongoing WTO reform proposals and an update on fall IGTC meetings and events.

Read the full newsletter here.

NAEGA-NGFA Joint Statement on USMCA

On Monday, October 1, 2018 NAEGA and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) released a joint statement regarding announcement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. As part of the statement, NAEGA President and CEO Gary Martin and NGFA President Randy Gordon commented that: “Given the integrated nature of the North American economy, including within the food and agricultural sector, it was extremely important to reach a trade agreement that included all three countries. The announcement of a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) represents a significant, positive step in modernizing and further enhancing North American food and agricultural commerce that has and will continue to benefit economic growth and consumers in this hemisphere, and further enhance investment and food security.”

A copy of the joint statement can be found here.

DBTG Operational and Technical Seminar

On October 4-5, Ryan participated in the Dry Bulk Terminals Group’s (DBTG) Operational and Technical Seminar in Baltimore, MD. The seminar covered safety, health, and environmental issues for dry bulk terminals. A trip report will on this event will follow in the coming weeks. During the seminar Ryan presented on The Bulk Grain Trade in a Complex Policy Environment: Experiences from NAEGA and the IGTC. Ryan, who also serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the DBTG, also participated in an Executive Committee meeting on October 3 to discuss organizational operations, finances, and planning for the next seminar.