USCA president Kenny Graner testifies at NAFTA modernization hearing
United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Kenny Graner testified today in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) “NAFTA Modernization Hearing”. President Graner testified during “Panel 4: Animal Products”, alongside panelists representing the following organizations: Pet Food Institute; North American Meat Institute; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund; National Renderers Association; and National Milk Producers Federation & U.S. Dairy Export Council.
President Graner’s testimony complemented the official comments USCA submitted to the ITC regarding the upcoming NAFTA negotiations and modernizations to be considered regarding the livestock industry.
President Graner’s testimony focused on the need to address current imbalances and trade deficits specific to the livestock industry; factors stated as influencing the current situation include origin labeling; acknowledgment of perishable and cyclical products; and disparities in industry support and subsidy programs.
President Graner commented on the hearing, “USCA supports the Administration in reviewing and negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA is now over 20 years old, and it has become apparent that modernizations must be addressed.
“The U.S. livestock industry represents a significant portion of agriculture trade within the three countries and there are specific sections that must be reviewed and acted on. Country-of-origin labeling remains an issue for cattle producers across the U.S. and consensus must be reached on how to best respond to consumer demand for accurate information. Unlike other industries, agriculture products, specifically beef, must be categorized as perishable and cyclical products. The shelf life for our product is not indefinite and swings in import volume or price surges result in immediate devastation to all lines of the supply chain. Congress has directed the Administration to act on this issue in future agreements, USCA asks that NAFTA serve as the first platform to do so.
“Failure to address these concerns only gives international packers who dominate the U.S. market leverage to suppress cattle prices; as both former Chair of the International Trade Commission and U.S. Senate Trade Deficit Review Commission have noted, importers and packers can, and do, use imports to suppress domestic prices.
“As we move forward with the NAFTA negotiations, USCA will remain at the table to ensure U.S. cattle producers and the U.S. livestock industry are once again left with a fair and level playing field.”
–United States Cattlemen’s Association
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.