Northarvest Requests Fair Market Access for U.S. Dry Beans

FARGO, N.D. – In March, the U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) sent letters to the honorable U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to encourage fair market access of U.S. Dry Beans to Europe and the United Kingdom.

The dry bean industry is asking for relief around the 25% retaliatory tariffs that have been placed on U.S. dry bean exports to the EU and the UK in response to Section 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs that were applied by the U.S.
This tariff is a direct hit on the U.S. dry bean exports across the Atlantic, with tariffs potentially increasing as of June 1. The Northarvest Bean Growers Association’s concern is the rapidness of this deadline and the possibility of increasing tariffs locking the U.S. out of these two markets.
The EU and UK market was expected to grow 2-4% per year until 2023. This increase is driven by European consumer’s interest in plant-based proteins. The UK is the largest importer of canned beans at 23% share of the European market.
The Northarvest region, covering North Dakota and Minnesota, accounts for 65% of dry bean planted acreage in the United States in 2021. Europe is the largest market for canned beans in the world accounting for 50% of the worlds’ imports. It goes without saying that the impact these tariffs have on the U.S. dry bean economy are unwelcome.
In efforts to urge regional legislators to support the reversal or mitigation of these tariffs, Northarvest has reached out to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sen. Tina Smith (MN), Sen. John Hoeven (ND), Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND), Rep. Kelly Armstrong (ND), Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN), Rep. Angie Craig (MN), Rep. Dean Phillips (MN), Rep. Betty McCollum (MN), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rep. Tom Emmer (MN), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN) and Rep. Pete Stauber (MN). 
Legislators are concerned for growers and committed to raising concern. Northarvest would like to thank Federal legislators from North Dakota and Minnesota for their strong support in overcoming trade politics.
“It’s important for growers to reach out and share their concerns regarding the tariffs,” said Kevin Regan, USDBC and Northarvest member. “Through collaborative efforts with legislators, I’m confident we can minimize the fallout over this detrimental block.”
With the encouraging positive advocacy from key legislators, Northarvest asks growers to contact your local representatives and voice support in addressing the EU and UK 25% retaliatory tariffs on exported dry beans.

USDBC Outlines Top Three Trade Policy Areas

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) continues to pursue an ambitious trade policy agenda into the third quarter of 2021 as key U.S. government trade personnel are confirmed and/or appointed. 
The organization is addressing numerous trade policy priorities around the globe, and has identified the top three as:
  1. Removal of EU/UK tariffs – U.S. dry bean imports to the EU and UK continue to face 25 percent retaliatory tariffs as a result of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. While the respective governments have agreed to suspend tariffs in the Airbus/Boeing dispute, the steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory response predates this and has not been resolved. USDBC has already sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and will be reaching out to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to ask for the suspension of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dry bean imports.
  2. Dominican Republic (DR) Adherence to Duty-Free, Quota-Free Imports – Since the full implementation of the CAFTA/DR trade agreement last year, U.S. dry beans imports can enter the Dominican republic duty-free with no limit to tonnage. While this should be beneficial to both sides, it has instead resulted in market protection mechanisms by the DR to limit the amount of U.S dry beans entering the country, especially during peak local harvest. This is in direct violation of the trade agreement. USDBC has been in long-standing talks with USDA/FAS Santo Domingo and will be meeting with USTR officials this week.
  3. Low or Zero-tolerance MRLs – USDBC remains concerned about the continued proliferation of low or zero MRLs/tolerances for pesticides/herbicides. Many of the most important export markets continue to veer away from Codex and impose unrealistic tolerances levels that will result in a disruption of trade. USDBC is particularly concerned about the EU and Mexico. An RFP to bring on a technical specialist to assist has been issued in a new initiative to help address this ongoing area of concern worldwide.

Dry Bean Scene

Even though all of the 2020 U.S. General Election results are still unknown, there are some things that are certain for agriculture. David Widmar of Agricultural Economic Insights and Randy Russell of The Russell Group have more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network.

Dry Bean Trade Policy Update

With so much going on in the world of trade policy for dry beans, the U.S. Dry Bean Council has provided a update:
China Phase One Agreement
A 5% reduction on dry bean retaliatory import duties to 38%, still not at levels previous to the ongoing trade dispute. We have also learned that Chinese importers can apply for an exemption to bring in U.S. dry beans at previous applied tariff rates.
US/UK Trade
Discussions continue on prospects for a US/UK trade agreement as the UK continues to define the terms of its trade regime during the transition Brexit year through the end of 2020. The UK government is holding a consultation period on its MFN tariff levels once Brexit is complete in 2021, this is open to comments through March 5, 2020.
US/EU Trade
There is renewed vigor to engage in trade discussions with the EU. Negotiations are starting up again behind the scenes while ongoing retaliatory tariffs remain in place.
The CAFTA/DR trade agreement has reached full implementation for US Dry Beans. This means that all U.S. origin dry beans enter the Dominican Republic duty free with no limits on tonnage via TRQs. In many ways this opens the market to more bean imports from the U.S but it is also creating some roadblocks. We are addressing these with both the U.S. and DR governments to ensure full market access.

Dry Bean Leaders Visit Capitol Hill

Members of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and the North Central Bean Dealers were recently in Washington, D.C.

While there, they discussed the farm bill, agriculture trade and policy implications with Congressional delegates from Minnesota and North Dakota. Members also connected with USDA regarding bean procurement in the Food Aid Program.