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NGFA - National Grain and Feed Association : Profile: International Trade/Ag Policy

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02/21/2014 | 11:11pm CET

Editors note: NGFA relies heavily on its 18 active committees and councils to address significant issues related to public policy and industry business. As such, NGFA has launched a series of profiles looking at the committees, their priorities and leadership to keep members up-to-date on current issues. A new committee will be featured each month in the "Committee Corner" based on association priorities.

Committee Name: International Trade/Ag Policy

Committee Chairwoman: Beth Bechdol, Agribusiness Council of Indiana/Indiana Grain and Feed Association, Indianapolis, Ind.

NGFA Liaisons:

  • Jared Hill, director of legislative affairs
  • Max Fisher, director of economics and government affairs

Committee Members: Below is a list of committee members as of
Feb. 20:

  • James Black, Maplehurst Farms, Rochelle, Ill.
  • John Brammeier, Co-Alliance LLP, Avon, Ind.
  • John Cassidy, Perdue AgriBusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
  • Matt Caswell, Ag Processing Inc., Omaha, Neb.
  • Joe Christopher, Crossroads Cooperative Association, Sidney, Neb.
  • Charles Colbert, Zen-Noh Grain Corp., Covington, La.
  • Bryan Dierlam, Cargill Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • Thomas Erickson, Bunge Product Lines, Washington, D.C.
  • Sarah Gallo, CHS, Washington, D.C.
  • Lorraine Hawley, Archer Daniels Midland, Washington, D.C.
  • Joe Kapraun, GROWMARK Inc., Bloomington, Ill.
  • Susan Lyons, Perdue AgriBusiness LLC, Washington, D.C.
  • James Mayer, James Mayer & Associates, Inc., Northfield, Ill.
  • Timothy Mellencamp, Rabo AgriFinance, Chicago
  • Ron Mitzel, Dakota Mill and Grain Inc., Rapid City S.D.
  • Joseph Needham, The Andersons Inc., Maumee OH
  • Rolf Peters, AgMotion Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Bill Reed, Riceland Foods Inc., Stuttgart, Ark.
  • Mark Reisinger, Dupont Pioneer Johnston, Iowa
  • Charles Schwerha, Roquette America Inc., Geneva, Ill.

In addition, the committee has one member, Daniel Camichael with Maplehurst Farms in Rochelle, Ill., from the Committee Apprentice Program.

Committee Purpose: This committee advocates policies that promote sustained economic growth for all sectors of U.S. agriculture. It works to minimize market-distorting farm and acreage-idling programs, such as conservation policies that idle productive farmland, to encourage U.S. agricultural growth to meet expanding demand for food, feed, exports and biofuels. And it promotes free trade agreements that significantly reduce and eliminate trade-distorting domestic and export subsidies, and enhance U.S. access to foreign markets.

Major Current Committee Activities: The committee currently is focusing on the following major issues:

  • Farm Bill Implementation: During the farm bill debate, the committee focused on two primary areas of the legislation: commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). NGFA successfully advocated for the commodity program to not be tied to actual planted acres, so as to make the program as market-oriented as possible. In regards to CRP, NGFA also successfully advocated for lowering the acreage cap from 32 million acres down to 24 million acres and allowing penalty-free termination of CRP contracts at the option of the producer.The farm bill did indeed reflect the positions advanced by NGFA, and USDA has begun its work on implementing the bill. The committee will keep a close watch on, and if necessary provide input on, how USDA implements the new commodity program and CRP.
  • Conservation Reserve Program Payment Rates: As NGFA has conducted analysis on how the CRP program is currently administered, NGFA has discovered there are some areas of the country where the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is paying CRP contract-holders higher rates than the average cash rental rate for the area. This causes some landowners to enroll productive farmland into the CRP based on government payments rather than environmental factors. NGFA has raised this issue with USDA officials, as well as officials with the Office of Management and Budget. The issue has not been resolved and NGFA will continue to push for the use of sound practices in calculating such rates.
  • Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): NGFA is a member of the Trade Benefits America Coalition, which is comprised of trade associations, business groups, corporations, and whose purpose is to advocate for the swift passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), considered essential in order for the U.S. to complete international trade agreements.
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): NGFA continues to advocate for a strong and enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter in the TPP, along with the inclusion of a rapid response mechanism that would provide for shipment specific trade facilitative obligations that address frustration of trade in perishable and time sensitive shipments of agricultural products as result of implementation of SPS restrictions, and technical barriers to trade measures.
  • Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): NGFA is working with coalition partners to ensure the U.S.-EU trade negotiations result in a 21st century agreement that addresses the trade barriers facing U.S. agricultural products.
  • Prevented Planting Crop Insurance Coverage: NGFA continues to be supportive of the crop insurance program as a vital risk management tool. However, the committee is continuing to analyze the prevented planting insurance coverage to assess what impacts it may have on the grain industry.

By Jared Hill, Director of Legislative Affairs

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