Despite Pandemic, Trade Front Remains Active For America Farmers

As 2020 draws to a close, the United States is busy working to improve things on the trade front for American farmers. There was a lot of talk in farm county this year about China, and what the country said it would buy, and what it was actually buying. Dave Salmonsen, senior director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau, said after a slow start to the year, China started to make purchases of note late in the fall.

“If you add the product that’s been shipped and that’s contracted for sale, we’re at about $27 billion worth overall to China. China has implemented about 50 of the 57 individual standards commitments they made in the agreement to lower barriers for U.S. exports of beef, and pork, and poultry, dairy products, horticultural products, and really sets us up going forward.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. is busy negotiating a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. Salmonsen said the deal needs to get done by early next year when Trade Promotion Authority is set to expire.

“It will be an up or down vote, without amendments. But these provisions run out on July 1 of 2021. For an agreement to go to Congress and get this kind of treatment, it has to go up there 90 days before July 1, so there’s an effective deadline of April 1. Now the negotiators from both sides are working on a lot of different issues. There’s about 29 chapters to this trade agreement, but for agriculture, the two main ones are dealing with tariffs and standards.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office announced it’s looking into whether Canada is using Tariff Rate Quotas to limit U.S. access to its dairy markets.

“You get a certain amount of product in at zero tariff. If you try to sell more than the certain amount, then the high Canadian tariffs would kick in. Our USTR thinks that certain actions by the Canadian government, the administration of these quotas, are favoring Canadian firms, are blocking access for U.S. farmers trying to export into that Canadian market. And so, the USTR is starting an action to make sure that Canada lives up to what it agreed to.”

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