In this file:
· Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal
· House Democrats call for revival of meat labeling law
· Canadian Cattlemen's Association Doesn't Expect To See COOL In New NAFTA
· NFU Urges Additional Improvements to USMCA
Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal
By Cristina Marcos, The Hill
House Democrats say there's little to no chance that Congress will take up President Trump's replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) before the end of summer.
With only three more weeks scheduled to be in session before the August recess, House Democrats from across the spectrum are demanding that the trade pact with Mexico and Canada be renegotiated, citing concerns with the implications for labor and environmental standards as well as drug prices.
The Trump administration has been pushing for approval of the deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), by August due to concerns that the 2020 presidential campaign will make it politically impossible to complete the deal this fall. Congress will also have to deal with avoiding a government shutdown and debt default after returning to Washington on Sept. 9 from the monthlong summer recess.
But House Democrats say that the idea of getting the trade deal done by the end of the summer session is all but out of reach.
“I don't see how that happens in three weeks,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee.
As for the Trump administration’s push to get the trade pact through Congress by August, “That's their problem. We've told them what our interests are,” Blumenauer said.
House Democrats insist that they do want to get the USMCA done, but aren't holding themselves to a deadline.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also downplayed the timing of 2020 politics, noting that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is still meeting with House Democrats to discuss their policy concerns.
“[Lighthizer] frequently will say, ‘We just don't want to get this into the presidential.’ And I say, ‘These presidential candidates, there are 20, and I think most of them probably would want a better NAFTA.’ I certainly don't speak for them. But, that really doesn't have anything to do with — it's about the substance of the agreement, not the politics at all,” Pelosi said at a press conference before the House adjourned for the July 4 recess.
“We do not want to pass this agreement just slightly different from NAFTA with a little sugar on top and say, ‘See, we did something different,’ ” she said.
Most Democratic presidential candidates are calling for changes to the agreement along the same lines as House Democrats.
Passing the USMCA would be a major legislative accomplishment for Trump...
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House Democrats call for revival of meat labeling law
The country-of-origin labeling requirement COOL, repealed in 2016, called for labels on beef and pork products to show where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
By Ellyn Ferguson, CQ-Roll Call
via Portland Press Herald (ME) - July 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — A meat labeling law repealed three years ago may be making a comeback as some lawmakers call for it to be added to the proposed trade pact designed to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
The country-of-origin labeling requirement, known as COOL, called for labels on beef and pork products to show where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
Canada and Mexico successfully challenged the law at the World Trade Organization and subsequently threatened in 2015 to impose a combined $1.1 billion in annual retaliatory duties if the U.S. kept the requirement. They said the labeling discouraged U.S. meatpackers from buying their livestock.
Lawmakers of both parties who had opposed the mandatory labeling cited the tariff threat and got repeal language into the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending package.
Now some supporters see the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada agreement as a long-shot vehicle for reviving COOL.
Twenty-seven House freshmen Democrats included the resurrection of COOL among several must-do USMCA revisions in a June 25 letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. They said the House should not vote on USMCA implementing legislation until the administration also includes strong enforcement provisions on labor and environment in the trade agreement.
The lawmakers also want the removal of provisions setting a 10-year monopoly on pricing for biologic medications and allowing the use of private arbitration panels by U.S. oil and gas companies in disputes with Mexico.
“Mexico and Canada already have used trade rules to undermine the food labeling that America’s farmers and ranchers support and the transparency that consumers demand. A final NAFTA package must restore the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) passed by Congress and affirmed by U.S. courts,” the letter said.
Austin Laufersweiler, spokesman for Rep. Andy Levin, one of the letter’s organizers, said the labeling provision was included “because it benefits workers, who are at the heart of the protections the freshmen are trying to have included.”
The most vocal supporters of the labeling were the National Farmers Union and Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, whose members were in direct competition with Canadians for sales to slaughterhouses along the U.S-Canada border...
Canadian Cattlemen's Association Doesn't Expect To See COOL In New NAFTA
by Jessica Giles
05 July 2019
Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) was brought up recently in the American House of Congress, as talks of approving the new NAFTA or US-Canada-Mexico Agreement continue.
COOL labeling has been brought to American Legislature and shot down by Congress and the World Trade Organization in the past.
Even the World Trade Organization thought COOL was unlawful and gave Canadian and Mexican Governments the authority to to impose over a billion dollars of punitive duties if the US didn't come into compliance or went out of compliance,which they would if COOL goes back into legislation.
It's because of that, that Dennis Laycraft with the Canadian Cattleman's Association says COOL laws likely won't stand up in Congress.
"There's a couple of groups that tend to represent a small number of producers, but make a lot of noise. That's R-Calf and the US Cattlemen who continue to push to get mandatory Country of Origin Labeling legislation pushed back in," Laycraft said. "You've got the mainstream industry and the majority of cattle producers represented through NCBA, the National Cattleman's Beef Association and you've got the processing industry that continue to oppose it, recognizing previously when it went in that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and has no consumer benefit the way it was introduced."
COOL legislation would target meat producers in all three nations, says Laycraft.
"It would be targeted towards beef and pork and you see a small number of Democrats that have indicated they would like to see it in there."
Laycraft says despite recent rumblings of bringing COOL legislation back from the dead, it would cost American Producers too much money...
NFU Urges Additional Improvements to USMCA
Provisions Could Help Reduce Health Care Costs and Protect Rural Jobs
Source: National Farmers Union (NFU)
July 5, 2019
WASHINGTON – As Congressional leadership and the Trump administration work towards a compromise on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the country’s oldest general farm organization is urging additional improvements to the deal that could help to reduce health care costs and protect rural jobs before it is sent to Congress for approval.
In a letter sent to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson emphasized the value of trade agreements to agricultural communities. “Access to export markets is critical for U.S. family farms,” the letter reads. “Canada and Mexico are the leading export markets for U.S. agricultural products, and USMCA would maintain those important relationships.”
Though international export markets have provided economic opportunities for family farmers and ranchers, the free trade framework that has dominated U.S. trade deals for the past 25 years has not been without its shortcomings. “Farmers are increasingly dependent on off-farm employment to make ends meet,” said Johnson, “but many rural manufacturing and other jobs are moving to foreign markets with cheaper labor and lower environmental standards.” He recommended that Congressional leadership include proposals that would address those issues. “Labor, environment, and enforcement standards must be strengthened to help to keep jobs in rural communities.”
Johnson also expressed concern about the implications of USMCA for rural health care. “The increasing cost of health care, a top concern among NFU members, is eating into already shrinking farm revenue,” writes Johnson, adding that the deal may exacerbate the problem. As written, USMCA would grant pharmaceutical companies marketing exclusivity for biologic drugs for a minimum of 10 years. If approved, this rule would prevent Congress from acting to hasten the entrance of lower-cost generic drugs to the market.
Farming is a notoriously precarious profession – in 2014, there was an estimated 58,000 adult farm injuries. Yet nearly half of farmers are not confident they could cover the costs of treatment for a major illness or injury without going into debt. All Americans should have access to effective health care, but given the added risks of agricultural professions, it is particularly critical that legislators work to improve coverage and affordability in rural areas. USMCA’s prescription drug provision would “limit the actions Congress can take to reduce prescription drug prices,” noted Johnson, and as such, it “must be rectified to allow for future reductions in health care costs.”
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National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.
Learn more about us at NFU.org.