U.S., China sign rice protocol
On July 20, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that his agency and China have signed a long-stalled phytosanitary protocol that will permit the import of U.S.-milled rice into China. The protocol, which is the most complex rice phytosanitary agreement the U.S. has ever entered into, contains an operational work plan that spells out the responsibilities of companies wishing to export in order to protect against the introduction of certain pests into China.
EPA erred, court rules
The Environmental Protection Agency erred in its use of a waiver to set a target lower than Congress mandated in a Renewable Fuels Standard law that prescribes how much of the nation’s motor fuel supply should be plant based, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled July 28. It is not clear how the decision about the 2016 target will impact the target for 2018, which the agency must set no later than Nov. 30. While an EPA representative said the agency is “currently reviewing the decision,” EPA said its proposed renewable volume obligations for 2017 and 2018 won’t be affected because it kept the ethanol figure at the full 15 billion gallons.
Chinese bean buys to rise
Changes in government support to corn production encouraged a shift toward oilseeds in China for 2017-18, reports a USDA ag attaché in the country. Therefore, the post expects Chinese soybean production to climb 1 MMT from 2016-17 to 14.1 MMT in 2017-18. But the post also notes that climbing demand for oilseeds “continues to far exceed the growth in domestic production.” Therefore, China will likely import a record 91.5 MMT of soybeans in 2017-18, up 3 MMT from 2016-17, according to the attaché. Also of note, the post expects China to produce a 9.5 MMT cotton crop in 2017-18, up 600,000 MT from the year prior, also due to policy changes.
Japan to hike beef tariffs
Japan will hike tariffs on frozen beef from the U.S. and other countries that do not have economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with it from 38.5 to 50 percent between Aug. 1 and March 31, its ministry of finance announced last week. The safeguard mechanism is triggered when Japan’s imports of specific beef products from all nations or those without EPAs climb more than 17 percent from the year prior. Its first-quarter imports of frozen beef from all nations were up 17.1 percent from a year ago, while its imports from non-EPA nations was up nearly 25 percent.
Last year, the U.S. sold $418 billion worth of frozen beef cuts to Japan, or around 18 percent of its total. And U.S. shipments to the country had thus far been running well ahead of a year ago. Japan’s top supplier, Australia, won’t be affected as it has an EPA with the country. This is the first time the safeguard has been triggered since August 2003.
Japanese officials noted the tariff hike was mandated under a framework that took effect following a 1994 global trade deal. However, the framework was to be scrapped under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump formally pulled the U.S. out of the TPP before it was submitted to Congress for approval.
“If we had the TPP, we would be exempt.” Craig Unden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said. “We hope the Trump administration and Congress realize that this unfortunate development underscores the urgent need for a bilateral trade agreement with Japan absent the TTP.”
Meat groups push stay of CAFO reporting
The National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association are urging a federal judge to give EPA time to develop guidance for how livestock operations must report emissions, arguing that not doing so will create a haphazard “reporting fiasco.” The motion filed July 27 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit follows an April decision of the same court overturning EPA’s exemption for animal waste emissions reporting requirements. Environmental groups said the court should reject the stay because the agency had plenty of time to figure out how to enforce the rule on CAFOs.
Aussie beef ban
China has temporarily banned beef products from six Australian processors due to concerns about labeling non-compliance involving meat from Australian processors that include two facilities from Brazil’s JBS SA. Australia’s trade minister said there may be “very significant amounts of trade” involved in the ban, including shipments already on their way to China, according to ABC. But Australia is working to quickly resolve the issue.
Bird flu risk down
South Korea’s ag ministry says that the risk from highly pathogenic bird flu has fallen, with no new cases reported since June 19. Therefore, on Aug. 4, it will lower its alert status by one notch from the highest level. The nation will continue to monitor the situation and disinfect farms through September. Bird flu decimated more than a fifth of the nation’s poultry flock since it was first detected in Nov. 2016.