ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Foreign trade continues to be one of the hot button issues for U.S. agriculture. Today trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico get back together in Montreal for the 5th round of talks to modernize the 24 year old North American Free Trade Agreement. Going into those talks, the Mexican Ambassador told media outlets there is agreement on about 40% of the topics being negotiated-but he said rules of origin could be a hang up since they need to be looked at on almost a product by product basis. The top trade negotiators from each of the 3 countries won't be in Montreal this week since they are at a World economic summit in Switzerland. But they do plan to be in Montreal next Monday for NAFTA talks.
The U.S. and our poultry industry have gotten a favorable ruling from a compliance panel at the World Trade Organization concerning a complaint against China. The WTO has ruled that China has not followed world trading rules by putting antidumping and countervailing duties on U.S. broiler products. But the case shows how long it takes for the WTO to act. This latest announcement follows the initial ruling that was made in 2013 over the Chinese action-action they first took back in 2010.
One of the first actions of the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, following the swearing in of the Trump Administration, was to set aside the Waters of the USA rule that was put together by the Obama Administration. But now the Supreme Court has made a decision that could have that rule back on the books. Yesterday the high court ruled that any challenges to the rule must first take place in federal district courts and not at the appeals court level. That means the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th District must now lift its ban on the stay it issued on the rule last year. But the rule likely won't go into effect anytime soon since the EPA anticipated the Supreme Court action and put in place a 2 year delay until they can do a broader rewrite of the rule.
2017 was a busy year for farm loan activity through the Farm Service Agency. For the year, the agency helped farmers access over $6 billion in new credit and actually issued just over $25 billion in loans to more than 120,000 family farmers-about $335 million of that loan money went to Wisconsin farmers. The loan breakdown also shows over 4,200 loans went to beginning farmers to help them buy their first piece of farm land, another 1,000 loans went to women and 400 went to veterans.
A bipartisan group in Congress, including Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Congressman Ron Kind are joining together to offer help to consumers when buying cheese. The bill, known as the CURD Act, would spell out the difference between natural cheeses and those processed with non-dairy ingredients. They hope to get a standard i.d. on natural cheese packages that says the product is made from the milk of lactating animals or from other dairy ingredients in accordance with natural cheese standards according to the code of Federal Regulations.