New Board of Directors Changes

On Thursday, May 30 the NAEGA Board of Directors met via conference call. In addition to reviewing and making several decisions related to NAEGA actions including approval of the minutes from its March 2019 meeting, the Board made several organizational changes. NAEGA Board Chairman Wes Uhlmeyer provided notice of his resignation effective June 1 and after applauding Wes’s contribution to NAEGA, the Board named Matt Hopkins of ADM to fill the unexpired term on the Board Wes was elected to. Subsequently, to staff the Executive Committee, the Board elected John Griffith (CHS) as Chairman, Matt Hopkins as First Vice Chair and Augusto Bassanini as Secretary. Holly Womak of Co-Bank, who previously served as both Secretary and Treasurer, will continue as Treasurer. Steve Strong (Bunge), Steve Smalley (Cargill), Gordon Russell (LDC), Carsten Bredin (Richardson), and Kevin LaGraize (Russell Marine) will continue to serve as Vice Chairs.

Report on USGSA Reauthorization Issues

Last week, NAEGA conveyed a report from Senior Advisor Kirk Miller on “2019 U.S. Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Issues” Kirk’s report is part of the extensive work of the NAEGA Grades and Inspections Committees on going consideration and joint work with the NGFA Grades and Weights committee to develop policy related to the in order to inform U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) on September 30, 2020.

Kirk report’s on several FGIS actions and commercial trade concerns that the U.S. Congress could be encouraged to consider as part of the USGSA reauthorization. They include

  1. Regional coordination and cooperation measures under a future U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
  2. General waivers for private third party inspections and weighing.
  3. Limiting the use of FGIS grain quality inspections in phytosanitary dispute resolution activities.
  4. FGIS oversight and external reviews to ensure that service competitiveness is being met.
  5. Alternative practices and procedures to prevent export inspections from bearing the burden of being the last critical control point for control of any pest problems that are being used as TBT’s.
  6. Promoting scientifically valid risk assessments in U.S. trade dispute resolution. Kirk’s report can be accessed here.


Ryan is back from Cancun, Mexico, where he represented NAEGA and IGTC priorities at the 26th Annual NAEGA-APPAMEX Forum. Co-hosted by NAEGA, the forum featured presentations on international grain and oilseeds markets and updates on the future of agricultural trade in the context of several regional agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO). The forum included contributions from both the current Mexican administration with the attendance of Undersecretary of Agriculture Miguel Garcia Winder. During the forum, Mr. Olson provided remarks at the opening ceremony, gave a presentation on Leading Trade Policies in the Global Economies and represented the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) on multilateral regulatory issues.

A copy of the trip report for the mission can be found here. Ryan presentation can be found here.

USDA FGIS Updates Registered Grain Exporters

Last week, USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) published its latest list of registered grain exporters. The most recent list can be found here.

Companies wishing to register as exporters with FGIS should click here.

U.S. Announces 5% Tariff on Imported Goods from Mexico

On May 30, 2019, the White House released a statement announcing the imposition of a 5 percent tariff on all goods imported from Mexico starting on June 10, 2019 in response to migrant flows across the U.S.-Mexico border.

In addition, the White House announced that these tariffs will be raised to 10 percent on July 1, 2019, 15 percent on August 1, 2019, 20 percent on September 1, 2019 and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019 if steps to reduce border crossing are not taken.

The Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, released a letter the following day, on May 31, 2019, responding to President Trump’s declaration by denouncing the use of tariffs as an effective way to solve the migrant problem. President López Obrador proposed that both countries opt “for development cooperation to help Central American countries to attract productive investments that create jobs to resolve this grave issue at its core”.

The White House declared that tariffs will remain in place until Mexico acts to substantially stop the illegal migration to the US.

The full statement from the White House can be seen here.

The full letter by the Mexican President can be seen here.

New U.S. Treasury and Commerce Regulations for Cuba

On June 4, 2019 the Trump Administration announced changes that will add new restrictions to travel to Cuba. The actions will not affect business travel, nor do they affect any regulations that govern agricultural or any other business with Cuba.

The changes include:

  1. Elimination of group people-to-people travel. This is the easiest and most popular category of American travel, used by National Geographic, Road Scholar, and many other tour companies. The Administration views these trips as “veiled tourism” and has ended them. People who have already booked flights or lodging under this category will be able to proceed with their trips.
  2. Vessel restrictions. Trump is reversing the Obama Administration policy that made it easy for private planes, yachts, sailboats, and cruise ships to travel to Cuba. It is possible for these vessels to go to Cuba, but they will have to apply for permission and the presumption is that licenses will not be granted. U.S. cruise ship visits to Cuba will end. Commercial airlines are unaffected, except that they are likely to reduce flights if demand falls.

USDA Proposes Part 340 Regulations

On Wednesday, June 5 the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of a proposed rule titled “Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms.” The new rule is, code named SECURE in short for Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible and Efficient, marks the first significant revision of USDA’s biotechnology regulations since they were established in 1987.

A copy of the proposed rule can be found here.