Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)



Renée Johnson
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

In January 2009, the outgoing Bush Administration escalated a long-running dispute with the European Union (EU) over its refusal to accept imports of U.S. poultry processed with certain pathogen reduction treatments (PRTs). Bush officials requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the EU on the matter, a prerequisite first step toward the establishment of a formal WTO dispute settlement panel. The U.S. poultry industry supported the WTO filing by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and encouraged the Obama Administration to continue to pursue the case.

PRTs are antimicrobial rinses—including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others—that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat. Meat and poultry products processed with PRTs are judged safe by the United States and also by European food safety authorities. Nevertheless, the EU prohibits the use of PRTs and the importation of poultry treated with these substances. The EU generally opposes such chemical interventions and believes that stronger sanitary practices during production and processing are more appropriate for pathogen control than what it views as U.S. overreliance on PRTs.

As PRTs are widely used in U.S. poultry processing, the EU’s ban on their use effectively prohibits U.S. poultry meat from entering EU countries. Prior to 1997, when the prohibition took effect, U.S. exports of broiler and turkey meat to the 15 countries that then constituted the EU totaled nearly 38,000 metric tons (MT), valued at $58 million. In 2011, U.S. exports to the same 15 countries were reported to be nearly 9,000 MT, valued at $13 million. USDA analysts believe that almost all of these U.S. exports represent “transshipments,” meaning that Europe is not the intended final destination and that virtually no U.S. poultry meat is being purchased for the EU market. Now that the EU consists of 27 countries, it currently imports worldwide about $500 million of fresh, chilled, and frozen poultry meat annually (excluding intra-EU trade), most of which is supplied by Brazil and other Latin American countries. Some estimate the U.S. loss of the EU poultry market at between $200 million and $300 million annually. Still, other foreign buyers continue to make the United States the second-largest exporter of poultry meat in the world, after Brazil.

Despite initial consultations between the United States and the EU, in October 2009, the USTR asked the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel regarding the EU restrictions on imports of U.S. poultry. The United States has asked the panel to review whether the EU’s ban on the import and marketing of poultry meat and poultry meat products processed with PRTs violates the EU’s WTO obligations. USTR claims that PRTs are judged safe by U.S. and other public health authorities, citing European scientific opinions indicating that PRTs pose no risk to human health. The latest scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that “chemical substances in poultry are unlikely to pose an immediate or acute health risk for consumers.” In addition, in 2011, the international food safety organization Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) issued guidelines for the control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat that covers the use of certain hazard-based control measures, including acidified sodium chlorite and trisodium phosphate, among other rinses and oxidants. Some believe the Codex guidelines should effectively resolve concerns about the use of these substances in poultry processing. Nevertheless, USTR and the U.S. poultry industry remain actively engaged in this case, and the United States and EU continue to maintain widely divergent views not only on the poultry issue but on some aspects of their basic approach to food safety regulation.



Date of Report: November 9, 2012
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: R40199
Price: $19.95

To Order:


R40199.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports



Renée Johnson
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Agricultural imports under the GSP totaled $2.4 billion in 2010, about one-tenth of all U.S. GSP imports. Leading agricultural imports include processed foods and food processing inputs, sugar and sugar confectionery, cocoa, processed and fresh fruits and vegetables, beverages and drinking waters, olive oil, processed meats, and miscellaneous food preparations and inputs for further processing. The majority of these imports are from Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Turkey. Some in Congress have continued to call for changes to the program that could limit GSP benefits to certain countries, among other changes. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program.

In the past few years, Congress has extended GSP through a series of short-term extensions. The program was most recently extended until July 31, 2013. Leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have continued to express an interest in evaluating the effectiveness of U.S. trade preference programs, including the GSP, and broader reform of these programs might be possible. Congress made changes to the program in 2006, tightening its requirements on imports under certain circumstances.

In early 2012 the Obama Administration implemented a number of actions affecting certain countries’ eligibility under the program, including suspending GSP eligibility of Argentina. Argentina is among the top beneficiary country of agricultural imports under the program, accounting for more than 10% of all agricultural imports under the GSP (ranked by import value). Under the program, Argentina exported more than $250 million of agricultural products in 2010, including casein, olive oil, prepared meats, gelatin derivatives, cheese and curd, sugar confectionery, wine, and other food products. The President suspended GSP benefits for Argentina because “it has not acted in good faith in enforcing arbitral awards in favor of United States citizens or a corporation, partnership, or association that is 50 percent or more beneficially owned by United States citizens.”



Date of Report: November 21, 2012
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS22541
Price: $29.95

To Order:


RS22541.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Expiration and Possible Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill



Jim Monke
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Megan Stubbs
Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

Randy Alison Aussenberg
Analyst in Nutrition Assistance Policy


Farm bills, like many other pieces of legislation, are becoming more complicated and are taking longer to enact than in previous decades. Generally speaking, the 2008 farm bill expired on September 30, 2012, or is expiring with the 2012 crop year. Both the House and Senate have moved on drafting a 2012 farm bill. The Senate passed its version (S. 3240) on June 21, 2012, by a vote of 64-35. The House Committee on Agriculture reported its version (H.R. 6083) on July 11, 2012, by a vote of 35-11. But House floor action and/or reconciliation of the differences between the chambers is pending. Concern over budgetary reductions and other policy differences is complicating efforts to advance the bills. These dynamics and election-year issues have delayed the farm bill.

Without a new farm bill or an extension, many discretionary programs do not appear to have statutory authority to receive appropriations. However, the Government Accountability Office has said that there is no constitutional or statutory requirement that an appropriation must be preceded by an act that authorizes the appropriation. Therefore, discretionarily funded programs are continuing under the appropriations continuing resolution (P.L. 112-175).

Many of the farm bill’s nutrition programs rely on annual appropriations regardless of whether they use mandatory or discretionary funds. Thus, appropriations action is sufficient to continue most of the major nutrition programs’ operations. Exceptions include mandatory funding for a farmers’ market nutrition program for seniors, and a few pilot or other small nutrition programs.

Other farm bill programs that rely on mandatory funding are more at risk for discontinuation, since both their authorization and their funding depend on farm bill action. The last year of farm commodity program support under the 2008 farm bill is the 2012 crop year, and is not tied to the fiscal year. Passage of the farm bill is pressured by a set of essentially mothballed provisions for the farm commodity programs that date from the 1930s and 1940s. Known as “permanent law,” they would be reinstated if the current farm bill expires. This makes the effective deadline(s) for enacting a new farm bill December 31, 2012, for dairy, and the first harvest of a supported commodity in 2013 (e.g., wheat in May). The permanent law provisions are so radically different from current policy—and inconsistent with today’s farming practices, marketing system, and international trade agreements, as well as potentially costly to the federal government—that Congress is unlikely to let permanent law take effect. Some see the existence of permanent law as an assurance that the farm commodity programs will be revisited every time a farm bill expires. Another motivating factor is the possible loss of baseline for some other mandatory programs if they remain in an expired state when a new Congressional Budget Office baseline is released.

For many conservation programs, program authority is permanent but the authority to receive mandatory funding expired at the end of FY2012. Without an extension of mandatory funding, new contracts or agreements likely cannot be approved. But all existing contracts and agreements (including long-term easements) would stay in force. Passing a new farm bill became less imperative for several conservation programs that were extended by the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-55). It scored savings by limiting five conservation programs but protected their long-term budget baseline by extending the expiration date to 2014.

Several agricultural trade and international food aid programs also have expired. Crop insurance is permanently authorized and therefore does not expire with the farm bill.



Date of Report: November 16, 2012
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R42442
Price: $29.95

To Order:


R42442.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 112th Congress



Kelsi Bracmort
Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

The use of biomass as an energy feedstock is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on encouraging the production of liquid fuels from corn. Efforts to promote the use of biomass for power generation have focused on wood, wood residues, and milling waste. Comparatively less emphasis has been placed on the use of non-corn-based biomass feedstocks— other food crops, non-food crops, crop residues, animal manure, and more—as renewable energy sources for liquid fuel use or for power generation. This is partly due to the variety, lack of availability, and dispersed location of non-corn-based biomass feedstock. The technology development status and costs to convert non-corn-based biomass into energy are also viewed by some as an obstacle to rapid technology deployment.

For over 30 years, the term biomass has been a part of legislation enacted by Congress for various programs, indicating some interest by the general public and policymakers in expanding its use. To aid understanding of why U.S. consumers, utility groups, refinery managers, and others have not fully adopted biomass as an energy resource, this report investigates the characterization of biomass in legislation. The definition of biomass has evolved over time, most notably since 2004. The report lists biomass definitions enacted by Congress in legislation and the tax code since 2004 and definitions contained in legislation from the 111th Congress (the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2454; the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, S. 1462; the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733; and the discussion draft of the American Power Act). Comments on the similarities and differences among the definitions are provided. One point of contention regarding the definition is the inclusion of biomass from federal lands. Some argue that removal of biomass from these lands may lead to ecological harm. Others contend that biomass from federal lands can aid the production of renewable energy to meet certain mandates (e.g., the Renewable Fuel Standard) and that removal of biomass can enhance forest protection from wildfires. Factors that may prevent a private landowner from rapidly entering the biomass feedstock market are also included in the report.

Bills were introduced in the 112th Congress that would modify the biomass definition (e.g., S. 781, H.R. 1861). However, debates about the definition have not been as extensive in the 112th Congress as they were in previous Congresses. Forthcoming discussions about energy, particularly legislation involving the Renewable Fuel Standard or energy tax incentives, may prompt further discussion about the definition of biomass.



Date of Report: November 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: R40529
Price: $29.95

To Order:


R40529.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The U.S.-EU Beef Hormone Dispute



Renée Johnson
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Charles E. Hanrahan
Senior Specialist in Agricultural Policy


The United States and the European Union (EU) have engaged in a long-standing and acrimonious trade dispute over the EU’s decision to ban hormone-treated meat. Despite an ongoing series of dispute settlement proceedings and decisions by the World Trade Organization (WTO), there is continued disagreement between the United States and the EU on a range of legal and procedural issues, as well as the scientific evidence and consensus concerning the safety of hormone-treated beef. To date, the EU continues to ban imports of hormone-treated meat and restricts most meat exports to the European Union to a limited quantity of beef imports that are certified as produced without the use of hormones.

Starting in 1981, the EU adopted restrictions on livestock production limiting the use of natural hormones to therapeutic purposes, banning the use of synthetic hormones, and prohibiting imports of animals and meat from animals that have been administered the hormones. In 1989, the EU fully implemented its ban on imports of meat and meat products from animals treated with growth promotants. Initially the ban covered six growth promotants that are approved for use and administered in the United States. The EU amended its ban in 2003, permanently banning one hormone—estradiol-17β—while provisionally banning the use of the five other hormones.

The United States has suspended trade concessions with the European Union by imposing higher import tariffs on EU products. The first U.S. action in 1989 imposed retaliatory tariffs of 100% ad valorem duty on selected food products, and remained in effect until 1996. The second U.S. action in 1999 again imposed a 100% ad valorem duty on selected food products from EU countries, and remains in effect to this day.

Over the years, the United States and the EU have attempted to resolve this dispute through a series of WTO dispute consultations, settlement panels, arbitration proceedings, and formal appeals. One of the earlier WTO panel decisions in 1997 ruled against the EU on the grounds that the ban is inconsistent with the EU’s WTO obligations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement because the EU had not conducted a risk assessment. In response, the EU commissioned studies and reviews to address the scientific basis of its ban on hormone-treated meat. Following each of these reviews, the EU reaffirmed its position that there are possible risks to human health associated with hormone-treated meat, given the available scientific data.

The EU claims it has complied with its WTO obligations and has challenged the United States for maintaining its prohibitive import tariffs on EU products. The United States disputes whether the EU has conducted an adequate risk assessment to support its position and maintains there is a clear worldwide scientific consensus supporting the safety to consumers of eating hormonetreated meat. In October 2008, the WTO issued a mixed ruling allowing the United States to continue its trade sanctions, but allowing the EU to maintain its ban.

In January 2009, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced its intent to make changes to the list of EU products subject to increased tariffs under the dispute, including changes to the EU countries and products affected, and higher tariffs on some products. The EU claimed this action constituted an “escalation” of the dispute. In May 2009, following a series of negotiations, the United States and the EU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which phases in certain changes over several years. In May 2011, USTR announced it was terminating higher duties for imported products listed under the dispute. USTR continues to monitor EU implementation of the MOU and other policies affecting market access for U.S. beef exports.



Date of Report: November 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R40449
Price: $29.95

To Order:


R40449.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART

e-mail congress@pennyhill.com

Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.