|WTO Cotton Issues Discussed|
NCC staff met with officials from the US Trade Representative’s Office and USDA to review progress in World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round of Trade negotiations, particularly the Cotton Subcommittee of the Agriculture Negotiating Committee.
The NCC outlined outreach efforts it has undertaken with respect to cotton producing countries in West Africa. NCC has spearheaded the development of several educational exchanges with officials from Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Chad regarding quality, ginning, production and other areas of concern to the African countries.
The NCC stressed that the cotton subcommittee should not serve as a means by which cotton is singled out for special treatment in the Doha Negotiations. NCC President/CEO Mark Lange thanked the US officials for their approach to the subcommittee and pledged the NCC’s assistance in developing whatever background information would be helpful to the US delegation.
|CAFTA Implementing Bill Approved|
The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees approved draft implementing legislation for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Completion of so-called “mock markups” allows the Administration to complete work on actual implementing legislation, which will be submitted formally to Congress for consideration under the “fast track” process. The process requires Congress to consider the legislation and accept or reject it without amendment.
During consideration, the Finance Committee accepted an amendment to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits to the “services industry” and failed to adopt an amendment to tighten labor law enforcement provisions to allow sanctions if a country failed to comply with worker rights. The TAA amendment is non-binding and likely will be included in another legislative vehicle.
Sen. Conrad (D-ND) filed several amendments, which would have exempted sugar from the agreement. He said he decided to hold his amendments to allow scheduled discussions between the sugar interests, Congress and the Administration.
Sen. Thomas (R-WY) voted against it and indicated he will again in the future if the sugar industry’s concerns are not addressed. The Committee approved the “mock” markup version by a vote of 11-9 with Sen. Lincoln (D-AR) joining Sen. Wyden (D-OR) in voting for it while Republican Sens. Snowe (ME) and Crapo (ID) voted against it. Sen. Lincoln’s support was critical to the Chairman and the Administration in moving the process forward.
The Ways and Means Committee approved the legislation 25-16 with Democratic Reps. Tanner (TN) and Jefferson (LA) joining all but one Republican in voting in favor. The panel rejected an amendment by Ranking Member Rangel (D-NY), which would have required CAFTA to be negotiated with stronger labor enforcement provisions.
|Sales, Shipments Rebound|
Net export sales for the week ending June 9 were 247,800 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’04-05 sales to about 14.9 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’03-04 marketing year were about 14.1 million. Total new crop (’05-06) sales are 1.1 million bales.Shipments for the week were 310,800 bales, bringing total exports to date to 11.0 million bales, compared with the 11.6 million at the comparable point in the ’03-04 marketing year.
|First ’07 Farm Bill Forum Set|
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the first “Farm Bill Forum” and the topics on which USDA will be seeking input from America's farmers, ranchers and rural residents regarding the development of the ’07 farm bill. It will be in Nashville, TN, on July 7, from 6-10 pm CDT at RFD-TV Northstar Studios.
The ’02 farm law, which authorizes many of the programs operated by USDA, expires with the ’07 crop year.
The public is invited to attend and participate in the forum, which will be broadcast live on RFD-TV. In addition to accommodating about 300 in the audience, the forum also will accept calls from across the nation.
"The next farm bill will affect America's entire agricultural community," Johanns said. "That's why I want to ask America's farmers and ranchers how our farm policy is working and how we can make it better. I believe very strongly that they deserve a voice in this process. I do not begin this process with preconceived notions about the direction future farm policy should take. We will use the feedback we receive to help us determine the best course for a new Farm Bill."
Throughout ’05, Secretary Johanns and other senior USDA officials will participate in the Farm Bill Forums. The forums will be held across the country, and dates, locations and times announced as they are scheduled and made available on the USDA web site at www.usda.gov. The public will be invited to attend and to present oral comments.
As the current farm law covers a diverse array of program areas, 6 topics have been identified to provide a framework for the forums. The primary topics reflect various concerns affecting rural America such as commodity, conservation and rural economic development issues. Some forums will be dedicated to other important programs authorized by the farm law such as food assistance, research and education.
The public will be invited to provide comments on specific questions based on these policy considerations:
Notice of these questions was published in the June 17, ’05 Federal Register. Comments will be accepted at public forums and also may be submitted electronically at the USDA home page (www.usda.gov) by selecting "Farm Bill Forums," by email to FarmBill@usda.gov or by mail to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Farm Bill, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-3355.
USDA will review the public comments received by Dec. 30, ’05, including any analyses, reports, studies and other material submitted with the comments, that address the questions.
|Secretary Johanns Announces FSA County Committee Elections Process|
Agriculture Secretary Johanns announced that farmers, ranchers and others across the country can nominate eligible candidates for the ’05 elections to serve on USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees beginning June 15. The last day to file nomination forms is Aug. 1, ’05.
"County committees play an integral role in the local implementation of Farm Service Agency programs," Johanns said. "I encourage all producers, community-based groups and others who care about American agriculture to participate in the county committee election process by nominating eligible candidates, especially minorities and women."
Farmers who serve on county committees help ensure FSA agricultural programs adequately serve the needs of local producers. Committees make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other issues.
To be an eligible candidate, a person must participate or cooperate in an FSA program, be of legal voting age and live in the county or area where the election is being held. USDA will again be implementing an extensive outreach program to encourage greater participation of minority and women producers in the county committee election process.
Individuals may nominate themselves or others as candidates. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based organizations, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, before the close of the nomination period. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or disability.
On Jan. 18, ’05, USDA issued uniform guidelines for county committee elections to help ensure that FSA county committees fairly represent the agricultural producers of a county or multi-county area. Among the key guidelines that are now in effect:
Producers are reminded of several important dates regarding the ’05 county committee elections. Producers can request, fill out and submit nomination forms from June 15 to Aug. 1, ’05. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 4, ’05. The deadline to return ballots is Dec. 5, ’05. Elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, ’06.
For more information about FSA county committees or to obtain a nomination form (FSA-669A), go online at: www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections or visit a local USDA Service Center.
|EU, China Reach Textile Accord|
The European Union (EU) and China reached an agreement that will limit the growth of Chinese textile imports to the EU until ’08.
The agreement covers 10 product categories: pullovers, men’s trousers, blouses, T-shirts, dresses, bras, flax yarn, cotton fabrics, bed linen, and table and kitchen linen. Two of the categories covered by the agreement were the categories on which the EU already had launched formal WTO consultations with China – T-shirts and flax yarn.
The agreement limits growth in imports in the 10 categories to between 8 and 12.5% per year for ’05, ’06 and ’07. These levels will be calculated on a base that includes either 2 or 3 months of post-quota trade levels. Also, growth rates will rise over the 3-year period for those categories for which growth is initially set at 8%.
The limits became effective on June 11, ’05. Limits for some of the categories are as follows: men’s trousers - 8% for ’05, 10% for ’06 and ’07; blouses - 8% for ’05, 10% for ’06 and ’07; T-shirts - 10% through ’07; cotton fabric – 12.5% through ’07; bed linens – 12.5% through ’07.
|Prices Effective June 17-23, 2005|