New Global Maximum Residue Limit Initiative

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.

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.

USDBC Awarded Global Broad-Based Initiative Grants

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) was awarded two new Global Broad-Based Initiative (GBI) grants from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). GBI grants are focused on cross-cutting policy issues that impact trade for a variety of agricultural commodities. USDBC will serve as the project lead and will work together with other commodity groups in the implementation. 
Raising Awareness of Pulse Nutrition will promote U.S. dry beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas among public and private health institutions. This will be done through focused training on the nutritional benefits within health institutions and the manufacturing sector of the food industry in Latin America. It will also target consumers through social media to influence purchase decisions.The Crop Protection Action Coalition for Trade will collaborate with FAS for a global capacity building program to harmonize international MRLs with Codex standards.
USDBC will be working together with other collaborators to get these initiatives up and running over the next month. Together, the two awards add another $400,000 to USDBC’s global export development programs.

USDBC Winter Board Meeting Outlines a Busy 2021

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) concluded its winter board meeting virtually last week. During the meeting, USDBC outlined numerous initiatives for 2021 that capitalize on continued strong global demand for U.S. dry beans.
The initiatives outlined include:
  •  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.

Dry Bean Scene

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.

Grady Thorsgard - Harvest (black and pinto)

Dry Bean Harvest Video Released

In fall 2020, the U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) captured footage of dry bean harvest to use it to tell the industry’s story. It also aids in communicating critical production and quality information with international buyers and other key audiences. USDBC partnered with teams from FLM Harvest and Torchwerks to travel around the Midwest. The photo shoots and interviews include farmers, processors and dealers from four states, including both North Dakota and Minnesota.

US Dry Bean 2020 Harvest Presentation from USDBC on Vimeo.

Special Announcement: BeanCon21

The U.S. Dry Bean Council is hosting the first ever global dry bean conference, bringing together dry bean buyers and stakeholders from all over the world.
Due to ongoing COVID restrictions, BeanCon21 will be a virtual experience. While USDBC would’ve loved to meet in person, the organization is excited about the opportunity to connect virtually and share the exciting innovations happening in the U.S. and global bean industries with an even broader audience.
BeanCon21 is a forum focused on bean innovation, trends and the future of food. In addition to innovative plenary sessions, BeanCon21 will feature opportunities for private business meetings, networking, chef presentations, harvest highlights and more. Check out the agenda.

Dry Bean Value Proposition Study Results

In March, the U.S. Dry Bean Council commissioned a research project designed to identify the value proposition of U.S. dry beans. This is a critical part of the global marketing strategy to help define and tell the story of what makes U.S. dry beans stand out. This information will be incorporated into future marketing plans. 
Consumers in Spain tend to display the strongest recognition scores of the various types of beans. Overall, beans are perceived to be versatile, as they are used for many different occasions in each of the EU countries. In Spain and France, they are used as an entrée/in the center of the plate. The UK scores highest “as an ingredient to use in everyday home-cooked meals”, as well as “a healthy addition to their diet/meals”.
Get the full details here.

Harvest Filming Underway, Webinars to Follow

Dry bean harvest is in full swing, and farmers are busier than ever. The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) has have been capturing footage of the action to use it to tell the industry’s story. It will also aid in communicating critical production and quality information with international buyers and other key audiences.
When the global pandemic eliminated the opportunity for USDBC’s traditional reverse trade mission, they pivoted and partnered with teams from FLM Harvest and Torchwerks to travel around the Midwest. The photo shoots and interviews include farmers, processors and dealers from four states, including both North Dakota and Minnesota. The content captured will be used for webinars with international buyers, as well as in a dry bean harvest video. USDBC looks forward to sharing the final video later this fall.

The Future is Virtual… For Now

Source: U.S. Dry Bean Council
As we approach dry bean harvest, we would normally begin gearing up to receive global buyers across bean country to observe the new crop. We’d also be getting ready for a busy fall and winter trade mission and trade show season to discuss the new crop with our global customers.
The good news is – all of this will still happen, the not necessarily bad news is – it will look and feel a bit different this year due to ongoing Covid travel concerns and restrictions. While in person events will not take place, many virtual events are scheduled. The virtual format allows us to add new events, including harvest reviews in other countries, and ultimately allows us to reach more of our target audience.
Here are some of our plans over the harvest season:
  • On August 26 we hosted the first review of the Mexico dry bean crop for the Spring/Summer harvest. Subsequent webinars will be scheduled after the harvest.
  • In early September we will hold a virtual trade mission to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
  • In early to Mid September we will host a discussion on trade consultations with the United Kingdom.
  • Next week we will host the first meeting of our newly formed Bean Innovation Working Group
  • In the Fall we will begin a series of webinars on the U.S. dry bean harvest for our global buyers.
  • There will be virtual trade missions to Central America and Colombia/Panama planned before the end of the year.
There will likely be additional events programmed, we will keep you informed, stay tuned.