July 9, 2013Today, a coalition of 20 free-market and conservative groups, including CEI, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Boehner urging him to ensure there is an open process for considering a farm bill separately from nutrition programs. The House agriculture leadership agreed to split commodity programs from the food stamp and nutrition programs, after the combined bill was voted down on June 20.
But ag leaders want the bill brought to the House floor under a closed rule -- with no amendments to be considered. In addition, the leadership wants the 1949 permanent farm bill to be replaced with the new bill. That is, whenever a farm bill isn't enacted or extended, the law would revert to the 2013 bill instead...
June 24, 2013The Chicago Tribune this morning had an excellent editorial about the House of Representatives’ defeat of the 2013 Farm Bill last Thursday. (See Tony Traina’s post in OpenMarket on that defeat.) The editorial pointed to the crux of the problem with bloated farm bills -- the fact that agricultural support programs and nutrition and food stamp programs are in the same bill, which leads to an unholy alliance of urban and rural policy makers. The Tribune urged that the current legislation be thrown out in favor of splitting the bill:
Here's an opportunity for Congress to do something revolutionary: Break up the farm bill. Debate and vote on food stamp policy and farm policy as entirely separate matters....
June 14, 2013A New York Times article yesterday points out some of the potential difficulties already evident in early talks on a trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The possible trade pact, called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is touted as a critically important step to getting the sluggish economies on both sides of the Atlantic moving.
Tariffs between the two parties are not likely to be a major issue, as both the United States and the EU have substantially lowered duties on most goods and services. The big bone of contention instead will be non-tariffs barriers, such as some sticky regulatory issues reflecting different approaches to risk as well as attempts to carve out “sensitive products” from the agreement...
June 5, 2013Even before substantive negotiations have begun, a major problem has surfaced in talks on a U.S.-EU trade agreement. Last month, the European Parliament passed a resolution stating the EU’s objectives and positions on major issues relating to a proposed trade agreement. One provision in that resolution started an outcry by the U.S. agriculture, food, dairy, and meat producers. The provision deals with the “precautionary principle” and reads:
17. Emphasises the sensitivity of certain fields of negotiation, such as the agricultural sector, where perceptions of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), cloning and consumer health tend to diverge between the US and the EU; sees an opportunity in enhanced cooperation in agriculture trade, and stresses the importance of...
May 28, 2013Protectionism through non-tariff trade barriers is alive and well in the trade arena, even with the U.S.’s largest trading partner, Canada. New U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations on mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat and some other commodities aim to comply with a 2012 World Trade Organization decision on a dispute brought by Canada against the U.S., but fall short of that mark and may open the door to Canadian trade retaliation.
When the U.S. regulations were issued May 23, 2013, the...
May 15, 2013Action is heating up on the next farm bill, as the Senate Agriculture Committee today completed its markup of their bill which will go to the Senate for consideration. The House is scheduled to release its markup on Wednesday. No surprise – the Senate bill is replete with subsidies and support programs that cost tens of billions of dollars.
Yesterday, in anticipation of the markup, eleven taxpayer and policy groups sent a letter to the House and the Senate with its listing of the “Terrible Twelve” – the twelve most egregious farm policies. The groups urged policymakers to reform or eliminate these costly and distorting programs:
- Direct payments
- Federal crop insurance
- Shallow loss program
- USDA Trade...
May 10, 2013The Hill picked up our coalition's release on reforming the U.S. sugar program. The letter, sent to all Senate and House offices, was pretty blunt in its assessment of sugar policy:
The program is an outdated relic of the 1930s that has outlived its purported usefulness. It is a central planning scheme that—
—Allocates the domestic supply
—Restricts imports of sugar
—Sets prices substantially higher than the world price
—Buys up surplus sugar and sells it at a loss to ethanol producers
Ten taxpayer, advocacy, and public policy groups signed on to the missive, which also pointed out who benefits and who loses:
The U.S. sugar program is a...
May 1, 2013A high-level panel of experts yesterday pointed out the mutual economic benefits of a broad transatlantic trade pact between the United States and the European Union. At the event, co-sponsored by Meridian International Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish think tank Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies (FAES), the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress, and the Ronald Reagan Building and Trade Center, the speakers emphasized the significant contributions to jobs and growth a trade agreement between the two parties would bring. They noted that the title of the proposed agreement endorsed by both the U.S. and the EU is “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”
Leading off the program was the former president of Spain, José María Aznar, who spoke of the need to bring the U.S. and the EU together in a trade partnership to formalize the strong...
April 25, 2013A possible bump in the road toward a U.S.-EU trade agreement emerged today as a parliamentary committee of the European Commission voted to begin trade talks with the U.S. but to allow a “cultural exception” for film and audio-visual subsidies. That means that the EU would be carving out this exception early on, possibly creating an obstacle to real progress on eliminating non-tariff trade barriers between the two parties.
The amendment to allow this exception was pushed by France, which wants to continue to receive substantial subsidies for its film industry and to limit the amount of foreign programs shown in France. German film subsidy bodies also endorsed the need for EU countries --...
April 12, 2013Today, the Acting U.S. Trade Representative announced that the U.S. has agreed to let Japan enter negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, subject to consensus agreement by the other 10 members of the TPP. U.S. Ambassador Demetrios Marantis noted that this agreement results from lengthy consultations with Japan that were aimed at resolving specific issues between the U.S. and Japan:
Since November 2011, the United States has been engaged in...