Unified Export Strategy

On Friday, June 28, NAEGA sent its 2020 Unified Export Strategy (UES) application to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The UES sets the framework under which NAEGA will administer its Market Access Program funding in the 2020 program year. The 2020 UES highlights planned initiatives and past success and serves as a blueprint for activities NAEGA intends to engage in over the next year, including efforts to promote the electronic exchange of commercial and official trade documents and efforts to address market access barriers through ongoing trade negotiations. This year’s UES includes a funding request for deploying and maintaining the Plant Biotechnology Information Exchange (PBIE).

FAS anticipates that the initial funding selections will be made by the end of October and the initial award dates estimated to be by the end of December 2019. A copy of the 2020 UES can be found on the NAEGA web site. For more information, please contact Patrick at

Genetically Engineered Wheat Plants Discovered in Washington State

On June 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State. The GE wheat in question is resistant to glyphosate.

There has been no evidence that the GE wheat found in Washington State has entered the food supply. The USDA is collaborating with state, industry and trading partners and are committed to providing timely and transparent information about their findings.

Sept. 30 Deadline to Request Exclusions from 25% Tariff on China List 3 Goods

In a notice published on June 24, 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would establish a process by which U.S. stakeholders may request exclusions of particular products classified within a tariff subheading covered by the September 2018 action. The USTR will open an electronic portal for submission of exclusion requests on June 30, 2019 at noon EDT.

The deadline for submitting exclusion requests will be on September 30, 2019.

Standards and Development Facility Releases 2018 Annual Report

On June 7, 2019 the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)  2018 Annual Report was published. The publication highlights how investing in safe trade, from food safety to animal and plant health, opens up opportunities for small-scale farmers, processors, traders and governments in developing countries to meet international standards and secure local livelihoods. STDF’s 2018 report, as well as a database of past reports, can be found through this link.


On June 6, 2019, MERCOSUR approved a new Low-Level Presence (LLP) policy entitled “Mechanism To Decrease the Occurrence of Low Level Presence LLP of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Member States”. 

The policy includes regional risk assessment sharing and regional recommendation of LLP threshold levels, with a goal of reducing the risk of trade disruptions in the region. A copy of the policy can be found here.

Mexico Becomes First Country to Ratify the USMCA

On June 19, 2019, Mexico’s Senate ratified the USMCA, being the first country to do so in the North American trade pact. Mexico’s Senate ratified it in a 114-4 vote with three lawmakers abstaining from voting.

Canada has introduced an implementation bill in the country’s Parliament. However, Canadian officials have expressed a desire to approve the deal at roughly the same time as any final votes are held in the U.S. Congress. The Trump administration will attempt to push for the U.S. Congress to approve the USMCA this summer.

The U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, congratulated Mexican President López Obrador and the Mexican Senate on the feat.

U.S. and China Agree to Restart Trade Talks

The U.S. and China have agreed to restart trade talks and the Trump administration will hold off on imposing tariffs on the remaining $325 billion worth of Chinese goods imported to the U.S. The trade truce was announced by U.S. President Donald Trump after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. While the truce has temporarily alleviated the threat of additional tariffs, the Trump administration is still charging 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods imported into the U.S.

EU and MERCOSUR Reach Trade Agreement

The EU and MERCOSUR have come to an “agreement in principle" on a trade agreement.  The agreement was announced on Friday, June 28 and on Monday July 1, the European Commission released the text of the agreement, which can be found here.

The EU is the first major partner with which MERCOSUR has agreed to a trade agreement.  Under the agreement, the EU will get tariff reductions on goods such as cars and wine and increase access for its companies making industrial products. MERCOSUR hopes to see an increase in exports of farm products with tariff reductions and quotas on beef, sugar and poultry. 

The full and final text of the agreement still needs to be drafted and approved.


On June 20, 2019, the IGTC Management Council approved new policy priorities related to low level presence (LLP) and plant breeding innovation (PBI). 

In the new LLP policy, IGTC recommends that that:

  1. Governments recognize the economic contribution of the grain trade as a crucial component of global food security.
  2. Exporting and importing governments must work together to improve synchronization of genetically modified (GM) regulatory approvals.
  3. Where synchronization of regulatory approvals is not possible, importing governments should consider pragmatic and trade-facilitative LLP policies.
  4. The Global Level Presence Initiative (GLI) strengthens and expands its membership, in order to forge solutions that have the buy-in of all countries which participate in the grain trade.
  5. LLP Policies should entail segments of the value chain to be fully responsible for the commercial activities under their respective remit.
  6. Regulatory approval of GM events is a critical component to LLP policy and implementation.

The Management Council also approved principals for PBI information-sharing that include the following:  

  1. Frequency of Information-Sharing
    1. Initial Consultation - Information-sharing dialogue be initiated as early as possible during the pre-market development and well in advance of the anticipated commercial product launch
    1. Subsequent Consultation - Ongoing consultations should occur as developments warrant.
  2. Opportunities for Joint Collaboration
    1. Identify opportunities to engage jointly with national governments, as appropriate
    1. Jointly discuss plant breeding innovation at the national and regional levels with consumer groups and food and feed manufacturers and processors to identify information needs and foster consumer acceptance.
  • Facilitation of Information-Sharing Between IGTC and ISF - IGTC members, as well as other relevant organizations and companies with which they have working relationships) are encouraged to convey information obtained during national and regional information  sharing exchanges in a timely manner with the IGTC Secretariat. to share information with the grain trade globally.

The IGTC Management Council will hold a call on July 25, 2019 to discuss IGTC governance.

U.S. Grains Standards Act Policy Priorities

In response to the current effort in the U.S. Congress to renew the U.S. Grains Standards Act (USGSA) in 2019, NAEGA and National Grain & Feed Association (NGFA) committees have developed the following priorities for a USGSA renewal:

  1. Prohibit the Misuse of U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) Quality Factors for Inappropriate and Misleading Purposes: The purpose of the USGSA is to establish official marketing standards for the covered commodities. The precedence and practice of using grain standards quality factors as an indicator of plant health for other sanitary and phytosanitary standards is inappropriate and misleading and should be expressly prohibited.
  • Change the Length of USGSA Reauthorization to More than 5 Years but No Longer than 10 Years: Considering the recent successful reorganization and relocation of  the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) into USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, where it previously had resided, as well as the continued improvement of FGIS operations in providing accurate, reliable, timely and more predictable service, NGFA and NAEGA propose that the reauthorization period be moved to a time period of more than 5 years but no longer than 10 years.
  • Review of the Current Geographical Boundaries for Officially Designated Agencies in Domestic Markets: To determine if the current number of grain handling facilities in operation, the volume of grain and oilseeds being handled and processed, and the volume of official services and testing being provided are adequate, FGIS should review the current geographic boundaries for each officially designated agency.
  • Reporting of USGSA Request for Waivers, Exceptions and Specific Services: FGIS needs to maintain transparency with stakeholders by reporting both requests for waivers and exceptions and specific services and the actions taken subsequently to address both while still preserving confidential business information.
  • Reauthorize the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee: The Advisory Committee is designed to provide advice to the Administrator on the implementation of the USGSA. NGFA and NAEGA continue to believe the Advisory Committee serves a useful function by providing expert advice and assistance to FGIS in fulfilling its core mission of ensuring that official inspections are performed in a reliable, consistent and uninterrupted manner to facilitate the export of U.S. grains and oilseeds to global customers.
  • FGIS User Fees Should Be Directed Solely to Official Inspection and Weighing Services: Approximately, seventy percent of FGIS’s budget is based on user fees while the remaining thirty percent is covered through appropriated funds. The industry is concerned that assessing additional user fees to finance activities like compliance/enforcement would increase costs of exporting grain, making U.S. exports less competitive in foreign markets.
  • USGSA-Related Expenses Should Only Apply to the User Fee Cap: The additional expenses associated with Agricultural Marketing Act commodities have limited the amount of resources that can be spent on administrative costs to improve grading and inspection services related to the USGSA.
  • Require Delegated States to Notify Users of Official Inspection or Weighing Services at Least 72 Hours in Advance of Any Intent to Discontinue Service: This important information is needed to enable affected export port locations and their customers to make alternative arrangements to preserve the uninterrupted flow of U.S. exports, preserve the U.S. reputation as a reliable supplier, address logistical problems and potentially lessen the economic harm to U.S. agricultural producers that has resulted from previous official service disruptions.

The full list of priorities can be found here.