FAO Publishes 2019 State of Food Security & Nutrition in the World Report

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and published it’s 2019 State of Food Security & Nutrition in the World Report.  The report is published annually to measure global progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. It includes an updated estimate of the number of hungry people in the world, including regional and national breakdowns. The report also offers analysis of the drivers of hunger and malnutrition, and this year includes a focus on the impact of economic slowdowns and downturns. FAO developed the 2019 report with the assistance of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO). More information can be found through this link.

Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court

Work by a Special Interest Group (SIG) of members has completed a NAEGA amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Amicus on Safe-Berth Clauses in Voyage Charter Agreements re: CITGO Asphalt Ref. Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co.  The brief can be found through this link.  At issue is the interpretation and scope of the safe berth clause that appears in all charter party agreements. A split occurred between U.S. Circuit Courts - the Second and Third U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal interpret the safe berth clause to essentially impose strict liability on charterer, versus the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that applies a much more flexible standard. There were two other amicus briefs filed on the same day also in support of the Petitioners all the relevant proceedings and submissions can be found here:

The oral argument has been set for Tuesday, November 5. The second case to be heard that day is another shipping-related case: the Blackbeard pirate ship copyright case.

NAEGA would like to thank the SIG members for their contributions and sponsorship of the NAEGA brief. 

Genetically Engineered Wheat Finding

On June 7, 2019, USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed a finding of genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State. The GE wheat plants in question were resistant to the herbicide glyphosate commonly known as Roundup.

Initially USDA laboratory testing identified wheat referred to as MON 71800 in the samples from the plants on the farm.  After further investigation it was determined that a second, separate Bayer Crop Sciences wheat, event MON 71300, was also present at the location.

While this appears to be an isolated incident, with no evidence that GE wheat has entered the food supply or commerce, the U.S Food & Drug administration has stated it “would have no safety concerns in the unlikely event that low levels of MON 71300 wheat or MON 71800 wheat were present in the food supply”.

Test materials for MON 71800 are readily available and have been used by trading partners from a previous detection of GE wheat. Bayer Crop Sciences is making a MON 71300 test kit available for trading partners. USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service has confirmed that the new test kit will detect MON 71300.

IPPC Generic ePhyto National System

On July 15, 2019, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) released the Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS). GeNS provides countries with a system that connects directly to the Hub and it is able to produce, send and receive ePhytos and is an option for countries that do not have their own national system or need a temporary solution while they build or update their own. GeNS makes the ePhyto Solution a global solution as it grants all interested countries access to the system and enables all countries to participate in the exchanging of ePhyto certificates.

Mississippi River Dredging Project

In June, The United Soybean Board (USB) announced a $2 million allocation to help offset the planning, design and research costs of deepening the lower Mississippi River from 45 ft. to 50 ft. There is a growing effort among Mississippi River stakeholders, including agriculture, to promote the dredging of the lower river shipping channel to 50 ft. in depth. The dredging project would help increase the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exporters ability to grow and market their crops.

The 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, LA to the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 60 of U.S. soybean exports, along with 59% of corn exports. The overall project is estimated to cost $245 million and would occur in three phases. Two of the phases will be cost-shared between the federal government (75%) and non-federal sources (25%).

China’s Exports and Imports Fall in June

China’s exports fell in June, particularly as tariff increases from the United States came into effect. Imports also continued to weaken amid declining domestic demand.

In June, exports fell by 1.3 percent year-on-year to $212.8 billion. Imports also continue to slump, falling 7.3 percent in June to $161.8 billion according to data published by General Administration of Customs in China on Friday. This followed an 8.5 percent decline in May.

Over the first half of 2019, China’s exports grew 0.1 percent in U.S. dollar terms, down from 12.8 percent during the same period last year, according to official data. Imports were down 4.3 percent from January to June, compared to growth of 19.9 percent last year.

Jones Act Reform Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

U.S Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced legislation that would create a waiver process for entities subject to the Jones Act. The legislation is called the Protecting Access to American Products Act (PAAPA), the bill would allow applicants to obtain a waiver if a Jones Act-eligible ship is not available to transport a particular product domestically. Jones Act shipping is limited in capabilities due to the 99-ship fleet and is more expensive compared to alternatives.

PAAPA would attempt to solve these problems by creating an expedited process for Americans to obtain a Jones Act waiver. If an applicant claims they failed to find a Jones Act compliant vessel for a specific product, the federal government must approve or deny that waiver within 60 days.

U.S. Criticizes WTO Over China Anti-Subsidy Duty Ruling

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) criticized the World Trade Organization (WTO) in reaction to an appellate ruling on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 that sided with China in a case in which China had challenged more than a dozen anti-subsidy cases brought by the U.S. the WTO ruled that the U.S. failed to adequately explain in several investigations why it needed to use a price from another country to demonstrate how China’s state intervention had distorted the domestic price of the product. In trade cases against Beijing, the U.S. often seeks a comparative price benchmark outside of China to account for the country’s state-run economy.

USTR took issue with the ruling saying it forced the U.S. to use “distorted Chinese prices to measure subsidies, unless the U.S. provides even more analysis than the hundreds of pages in these investigations.”  USTR also noted that this adds to a growing list of concerns that they have with the WTO, “including adding to WTO Member obligations and diminishing their rights, exceeding the mandatory 90-day deadline for reports, permitting individuals to continue to serve on appeals past the end of their terms, engaging in fact-finding on appeal, and treating prior reports as precedent.”

APEC Workshop on Non-Tariff Measures

NAEGA is addressing an Australian-government funded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Workshop to identify future work on non-tariff measures (NTMs) affecting grain trade. Several governments plan to participate in the Workshop. NAEGA has engaged with international colleague associations and the U.S. government, and outlined plans to support the Workshop in its 2020 Unified Export Strategy application.  NTMs targeted at the workshop will be used as a basis for future specific APEC projects to develop principles, guidance and or frameworks to support APEC economies.

Several NAEGA Committees are likely to be engaged in the Workshop planning and execution.  NAEGA is actively providing the U.S. and other governments with advice and feedback on the Workshop. If you would like more information, please contact Staff.


The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is seeking comments on a number of draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). The IPPC has released a list of draft ISPMs that have been approved by the IPPC Standards Committee (SC) for consultation, starting July 1, 2019. The consultation period ends on September 30, 2019. 

The draft ISPMs can be accessed through this link.

The Grades and Inspections Committee has addressed several aspects of IPPC standards in the past and is considering submitting comments on these drafts.  Members who are interested in contributing to these comments should contact Patrick or Gary.