ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- No one seems to know exactly what the next steps are in the talks to renegotiate the North American free Trade Agreement. The 5th round of those talks ended last week in Mexico City and both Canadian and Mexican officials said they are making little headway with the current position of the United States. The auto industry seems to be one of the major hang-ups. U.S. negotiators want 85% of autos and parts manufactured in North America-up from the current level of 62 and a half percent. But even U.S. automakers don't like that proposal because they say it would drive up automobile prices and make us less competitive in the world market. Other topics that are still hot button issues with the negotiators include ways to resolve trade disputes and award government contracts, governing of digital trade, telecommunications, customs procedures, health and safety standards for food and protectionist policies in agriculture. U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer said last week he is frustrated that Canada and Mexico aren't offering counter proposals to U.S. ideas and he will not get personally involved in the talks again until late January even though lower level negotiators will meet in Washington in December.
Milk cows around the country continue to do their job. In October U.S. milk production reached 16.7billion pounds-up one and a half percent from a year ago. And the main reason was more milk per cow. In the top 23 milk producing states, the average was 1,917 pounds per cow-up 13 pounds from last October. That's the highest October production per cow since they started keeping records. The total herd size was also up-to 8.74 million head, 67,000 head more than a year ago. California continues to produce the most milk with 3.25 billion pounds in October-but that was down from 3.3 billion pounds last year.
In Wisconsin, October milk production reached 2.55 billion pounds-up 2% from last year and keeping us in second place in overall milk production. Our herd size remained the same at 1.28 million head but those cows worked harder. Average production last month was 1,995 pounds, up 45 pounds from a year ago. The October numbers also show New York and Idaho are now tied for third place in milk production with Texas rounding out the top 5.
Also up in October was egg production in Wisconsin. We had 6.7 million hens laying eggs in October and they laid 151 million eggs-up 4% from September and 5% more than last October. Nationally, there were 374 laying hens in October and they produced 8.83 billion eggs-and that's down slightly from last year. Iowa continues to produce the most eggs with 1.33 billion last month-well ahead of second place Indiana's output of 797 million. Wisconsin currently ranks 17th in U.S. egg production.
A leader on agriculture issues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has had enough. Goodlatte says he will not run for re-election so he can spend more time with his family. In the past few months, Goodlatte introduced the Agricultural Guestworker Act that would replace the H-2A guest worker program. Goodlatte hopes to get a vote on the House floor on his bill yet this fall.