- The lingering impact of COVID and the desire for shelf stable healthy food.
- Increasing popularity of plant slant and plant based diets.
- A desire to eat foods that are sustainably produced.
- A growing interest in bean ingredients such as flours.
- An optimistic outlook regarding the resolution of long standing tariff disputes that have limited U.S. dry bean exports to certain markets.
- The lack of harmonization and missing global tolerances for pesticides (MRLs), ongoing retaliatory tariffs in critical markets.
- Lack of compliance with existing trade agreements that allow zero duty.
- Zero quota imports of U.S. dry beans.
- The need to produce evidence of the U.S. dry bean industry’s sustainable farming practices.
Last week, the U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) began work on a new initiative to tackle the global challenges of low or zero tolerance levels on pesticides/herbicides by launching the Crop Protection Action Coalition for Trade (CPACT). CPACT is funded through the USDA/FAS’ Global Broad-Based Initiatives (GBI) program, as it is a USDBC led coalition of like-minded agricultural trade organizations that also includes the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council and USA Rice.
CPACT will work in tandem with U.S. government efforts to address the challenges of low or zero-tolerance Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). The objective of this work is to ensure that MRLs are based on sound science and not hazard-based systems, nor rely on the use of the precautionary principle. Hazard and precautionary principle-based systems are prohibitive and tend to be guided more by consumer advocacy than science.
CPACT will work in tandem with global U.S. government initiatives to negotiate reasonable tolerances and will also carve out its own private sector agenda. USDBC has retained the services of the North Hill Group to assist in the implementation of this project.
Earlier this week, project principles met to begin discussions on how this public/private partnership will be implemented, review upcoming global meetings with counterparts and discuss the ramp-up period that will likely take the next few months. A meeting with private sector participants will be scheduled over the next month and a CPACT website tracking issues and events will launch in the coming weeks.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A new staffing pattern for Latin America (not including Mexico) resulting in enhanced market coverage and in country presence.
- Global U.S. dry bean value proposition research revealing key messaging to be incorporated into future strategies.
- Analysis of the current threat to dry bean trade posed by low or zero tolerance MRLs in Vietnam as a template for future global research and recommended response.
- Ongoing work on dry bean innovation focused on bean flour and ready to eat dishes with beans, to become part of USDBC’s domestic and global promotion work.
- Enhanced global social media and PR campaigns in all programs while travel remains limited.
- Ongoing pivot to virtual trade missions for Q1 2021 with UK/EU up next.
- Final push for BeanCon21 registrations, matchmaking for business sessions, pre-production of all panels set to begin early this month.
The dry bean industry has outlined policy priorities for the incoming Presidential Administration. Resolving the ongoing trade dispute and tariffs with the EU is top of mind, along with a trade agreement between the U.S. and the UK. Hear more from U.S. Dry Bean Council Executive Director Rebecca Bratter in the latest Dry Bean Scene.
Northarvest Bean Grower – Our Mission:
NHBGA, growers representing growers through the check-off system, is North America’s largest supplier of quality dry beans. Working together to better the industry through promotion, research, market development, education of consumers and monitoring of governmental policy. Our future goals must be continued market exposure and careful monitoring of new ideas, consumer choices, and producer needs.
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