October 16, 2015

Hello <<First Name>>,

The last several weeks have proved to be full of change on several of the issues we follow for Government Affairs and Vital Issues.

We wanted to update you on votes in House and Senate and other issues that will certainly need action in the future or be of interest. These issues include:

Thank you,

Karolyn Zurn, Chair
American Agri-Women Government Affairs & Vital Issues

WOTUS (Waters of the U.S.) has been on our plate for two years now and finally we see some hope. We should also thank and comment on the state legislatures that had enough intelligence and presence of mind to take action.

News on WOTUS: the good news is that the 6th circuit court of appeals issued a nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the rule from being implemented or enforced while the court reviews the legal issues in the case.

 View attachments on the web:
 EPW Sept. 30 WOTUS hearing.docx


The latest and up to date information about Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is listed below. No action needed yet because it is being cleaned up for final review.

These attachments define how each state will benefit. Please find full report on agreement at bottom of this page.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Information:

State Fact Sheets

Benefits by Commodities

Media Update on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
Conference Call - Press Conference - Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
October 6, 2015

Earlier today stakeholders met with President Obama just prior to announcing the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

  • It is a good day for agriculture
  • TPP is a High Standard Agreement
  • Provides a level playing field for American producers
  • Counters Chinese influence in the world market, providing higher science-based standards
  • Includes the elimination or significant reduction in tariffs or taxes on U.S. products
  • Virtually all agricultural products are included, including alcohol and wine
  • Agriculture is a winner in every case
  • TTP is a 21st Century Agreement
  • Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary bias must be science-based
  • Will provide additional opportunities to contest Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary bias
  • Will require acknowledgement from trading partners re: science-based, organic equivalencies
  • Dairy industry will benefit greatly. There will be a due process to limit overly broad limitations, specifics to be released
  • Enforcement provisions are included in this agreement
  • Will require signatories to raise the bar to meet U.S. standards in trade
  • American Agriculture is the Winner in this TPP Agreement

    Tell us about access producers will have in the Canada market?
Commitment by Canada to see expanded access to Canada and Japan, in particular for dairy products, including cheese, whole, skim and fluid milk products. There will be great opportunities for U.S. to expand markets for yogurt. This agreement will spur more innovation because it will raise the bar on the quality of new products entering the market. We expect to see expansion.

Why the need to wait 30 days for the text?  

Lawyers need to scrub the entire agreement to make sure the language is accurate, as greed by all parties. Fact sheets for each state will be provided. Time is needed before sending to congress.

The GOP expressed support but indicated it’s not guaranteed. Why?  

Labor issues and environmental standards w/ enforcement provisions are included in the agreement. It is incumbent on all of us to assure that the agreement is accurate and fair. Beef and pork stakeholders need to understand tariffs for trade will be eliminated within 16 years. Winners include fresh produce where tariffs will be totally eliminated. California will benefit greatly. Trade will be far more competitive and will include knowledge of safety and quality with strong science-based backing.

How do you see the gains in tariff elimination affecting currency manipulation?  

There are mechanisms in place to address or call out currency manipulations when presented with this situation.  There is a rapidly growing class of people in many parts of the world who will greatly benefit from TTP with U.S. being the net winner. They will be able to trade and access products that have not been allowed previously.

Supposedly there is a carve-out for tobacco. How do you reassure that the carve-out for one sector is not a bad thing?  

Not all countries are affected by this particular carve-out. However, with the health issues around smoking and tobacco this carve-out was uniquely handled and it is not the intent to enter into additional carve-outs.

Is it true that there are issues regarding bio-tech products?  

Bio-tech products are included in this agreement, including renewable energy products, GMO, and others. Included in the protocols are risk-based, science-based technologies to eliminate trade barriers.

Can you tell us more about access?

Trade agreements are negotiated products. Efforts to open new markets like New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia and many more will get assistance and American agriculture will reap huge benefits.
USDA is committed to ensure that American Agriculture has as much information as possible. We will be providing state by state facts sheets later today to assist with access to details.

Two more issues that AAW deals with as viewed by Marita from Energy Makes America Great:

1. Hydraulic Fracturing Rule
On September 30, another federal district court judge smacked down another federal agency--this time the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which, in March, issued federal fracking rules designed to spur states to follow suit (most energy-producing states already regulate fracking). BloombergBusiness states: "There are more than 100,000 wells on federal land making up 11 percent of the nation's natural gas production and five percent of its oil." The rule, if implemented and adopted by states, as hoped for by the administration, would magnify the impact, "potentially slowing development of oil and natural gas resources"--which is likely the goal. As a result, BloombergBusiness adds, producers "would have faced higher costs at a time when profits already are strangled by low crude prices."
In his 54-page decision, Wyoming's U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl wrote: "Congress has not authorized or delegated the BLM authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing and, under our constitutional structure, it is only through congressional action that the BLM can acquire this authority." He issued a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the rules, "finding that those suing had a good chance of winning their case and getting a permanent order barring enforcement."
Different from the EPA's arrogant decision to move forward with implementing WOTUS, a BLM spokeswoman, according to the Wall Street Journal, said: "While the matter is being resolved, the BLM will follow the Court's order and will continue to process applications for permit to drill and inspect wells sites under its pre-existing regulations."
Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at Western Energy Alliance, a party to the lawsuit against the government, is overjoyed to finally be "getting relief from the courts regarding the regulatory overreach of the Obama administration." She added: "We hope the BLM, EPA and other agencies that are rushing to implement even more regulations on the very businesses that create jobs will pause and actually follow the law and regulatory procedure."
"The case will proceed to a final resolution," BloombergBusiness reports, "probably early next year."

2.  Wolf Reintroduction
Ranchers in and around New Mexico's Gila Forest have been fighting the federal government's plan to release "another dozen or so Mexican grey wolves." Already, in the region, wolves since their introduction in 1998 have killed livestock, and children waiting for the school bus often do so in cages for protection. I've written on the sad tale several times.
On September 29, in a 7-0 vote, concerned about the impact to ranchers and elk hunters, the New Mexico Game Commission upheld an earlier decision denying the FWS permits to release Mexican wolves into federal land in southwestern New Mexico.
"Federal policy requires FWS to consult state agencies and comply with their permitting processes when releasing endangered animals from captivity," Science Magazine reports, "even when releases are made on federal land."
In June, according the Santa Fe New Mexican, "New Mexico Game and Fish Department Director Alexandra Sandoval rejected a federal permit for the Mexican wolf program because she said the FWS lacked a detailed plan to release up to ten captive wolves in the Gila National Forest, leaving her without enough information on what effects the predators would have on deer and elk populations."
In response to the decision, Game Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan of Roswell, NM, said she and her colleagues could only overturn the director's decision on the wolf permit if they found it "arbitrary and capricious."

Thank you for advocating for agriculture. 

Thank you for being A Force for Truth for 40 years!

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