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US beef export levels have been exceptional this year and by all appearances will continue to help US beef prices throughout 2017.

Ag groups insist EU trade deal must include ag

Trump Administration urged to require EU to bring comprehensive agreement to table in any future trade discussions.

An ad hoc coalition of more than 50 food and agricultural organizations is insisting that any trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union include agriculture and that it address the EU’s restrictive tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. farm products.

In a letter sent Dec. 18 to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 53 organizations, led by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), urged the Trump Administration “to continue stressing to [the EU] that only a truly comprehensive agreement will be acceptable to the Administration and, ultimately, to the U.S. Congress.”

The EU has expressed reluctance to include agriculture – as it did during earlier negotiations on the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership – knowing that it would require lifting import barriers that protect EU farmers and removing regulatory measures that are scientifically unjustified or overly restrictive.

Because of the EU’s barriers, the U.S. had a trade deficit in food and agricultural goods of nearly $11 billion last year. That deficit was $1.8 billion in 2000.

“This is not because European consumers do not want American products,” the U.S. food and agriculture groups pointed out. “It is because EU tariffs and non-science-based regulations deny consumers a choice." 

With pork, for example, the EU's high tariffs and unscientific sanitary/phytosanitary measures limited U.S. pork exports to the second largest pork-consuming market in the world to less than 4,000 metric tons in 2017, NPPC said. The U.S. sends more pork to countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Singapore than it does to the EU.

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, elimination of the EU’s tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork would result in billions of dollars in new exports to Europe and would create nearly 18,000 new U.S. jobs.

“The EU has played the United States like a drum in the past,” said NPPC president Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This must stop. We expect the Trump Administration to require the EU to negotiate on agriculture and to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork and other agricultural products.”

“If the EU wishes to conclude a trade agreement that addresses inequities in trade between us and that ultimately will be approved by Congress, such barriers and measures that restrict U.S. agriculture’s access … must be included as part of negotiations and successfully addressed in a final agreement,” the coalition concluded.

In addition to NPPC, others signing the letter to Lighthizer included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Assn., National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Animal Health Institute, National Grain & Feed Assn., North American Meat Institute as well as industry groups representing soybean, corn, wheat, barley, dairy, chicken, turkey and beef producers.

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