Report: Immigration Reform Vital to Colorado Ag Economy
On July 29, the White House released a report titled, Fixing Our Immigration System: Benefits to Agriculture and Rural Communities.
The report said, “The U.S. agriculture sector is particularly reliant on foreign-born workers. Currently, the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S.-born workers to fill labor needs: of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign born.”
“Agriculture is unique when it comes to labor needs. We have times of the year during planting or harvest, for instance, that require a great deal of labor,” said Don Shawcroft, CFB President. “Immigration reform is needed to fix a broken system that is increasingly stressful on farm families and workers who produce the bountiful and homegrown, fruit, vegetables, livestock and fiber everyone depends on.”
Within the statement from the White House, a detailed economic chart outlined the impact on Colorado’s agricultural economy if immigration labor is eliminated.
With Colorado having 37,054 farms amounting to over $6 billion in Ag sales, it is estimated short-term agriculture production loss would be $59.9 million to $107.8 million. The report noted with immigration reform Colorado could provide 1,031 new jobs.
NFU Signs Coalition Letter Supporting Competitive Rail Markets
National Farmers Union was among a group of 37 organizations that sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation urging action to strengthen competition in the U.S. rail transportation market.
“Family farmers and ranchers – and the rural communities in which they live – need access to fair rates for rail shipments,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “NFU has long advocated for the protection of captive shippers, and federal regulators haven’t kept pace with an increasingly anti-competitive business climate for users of rail transportation.”
The top four shippers control ninety percent of freight rail service, and 78 percent of the 28,000 places where cargo is picked up have access to only one rail carrier. Not coincidentally, rail rates have increased two-and-a-half times more than both trucking rates and inflation.
U.S. officials announce Continued EU Access for beef Producers
This week, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the European Union will continue to provide U.S. beef producers with significant access, at zero duty, to the EU market for high-quality beef produced from non-hormone-treated cattle.
The United States and the European Union are planning to extend for two years Phase 2 of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009 in connection with the United States’ long-running dispute with the European Union over its ban on beef from cattle treated with certain growth-promoting hormones.
In the year since Phase 2 began, U.S. beef shipments under the quota were an estimated $200 million, up 300 percent from the value of exports in the year before the MOU entered into force. Under the extension, the EU would maintain until August 2, 2015 its duty-free tariff rate quota for high-quality beef, established pursuant to the MOU between the United States of America and the European Commission Regarding the Importation of Beef from Animals not Treated with Certain Growth Promoting Hormones, at the Phase 2 quantity of 45,000 metric tons per year.
Bennet Selected to Serve on Farm Bill Conference Committee
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet last week was named as a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee.
Members of the Committee are tasked with reconciling the differences between the Senate- and House-passed bills and producing a final bill that will provide much-needed certainty to Colorado farmers and ranchers.
Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, will work to preserve provisions in the bill that are priorities for Colorado producers and rural communities.
The Farm Bill governs our national agriculture, nutrition, private lands conservation, and forestry policy. It is supposed to be reauthorized every five years, however the 2008 bill expired and has been operating on a short-term extension ever since.
Agriculture adds $40 billion to Colorado’s economy every year, making the Farm Bill particularly relevant. It also supports tourism and other vital industries with its increased focus on conservation and forest health – two priorities Bennet fought to include in the Senate bill.
U.S. Wins Trade Enforcement Case
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced last week that the United States won a major case at the World Trade Organization on behalf of American chicken producers, proving that China’s imposition of higher duties on chicken “broiler products” — which was followed by an 80-percent drop in American exports of those products to China — is unjustified under international trade rules.
A WTO dispute settlement panel agreed with the United States, finding that China violated numerous WTO obligations in conducting its investigations and imposing anti-dumping (AD) duties and countervailing duties (CVD) on chicken imports from the United States.
The Monitoring and Enforcement unit of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other USTR staff worked closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in preparing and litigating this case. Personnel from the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), created by President Obama to enhance U.S. trade enforcement capabilities, also provided support for the dispute.