Trade, Dicamba, Transportation: An Update From DC With ARA

Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at ARA, says there are ongoing unknowns across a spectrum of regulatory, policy, and legal fronts that are directly affecting ag retailers. 

He shares the latest from Washington DC–from trade, to transportation, to dicamba on The Scoop podcast, which was recorded on July 1, the first day of USMCA took effect. 

ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock released this statement regarding USMCA: "Today is a new day in our relationship with our trading partners. We are optimistic that this agreement will be mutually beneficial and allow our retailer members and their farmer-customers to recover from recent economic strife. With expanded market access and zero-tariff platforms among ag products, there is no doubt this is an upgrade for American farmers and agribusinesses. ARA is grateful for the bipartisan effort and leadership of Congress and the Trump administration that brought this historic agreement to the finish line.”

Gupton says there could still be surprises with trade, and most important to watch now will be how China fulfills its Phase 1 obligations. 

“Trade will continue to be important in 2021,” Gupton says. 

He also details recent action in the house on a surface transportation bill, which was a “partisan exercise” Gupton says it did not keep critical exemptions intact for ag retailers, including: the ag hours of service exemption and the short haul exemption. 

For the senate version of the bill, ARA plans to work with members of the Ag Transportation Working Group on an advocacy campaign. Here’s the link to ARA “Take Action” alert where retailers can voice opinions and support for reforms in this policy area.

A regulatory item to watch will be the reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security CFATs program. Gupton explains the current reauthorization expires in a few weeks, and the ARA is hopeful Congress can get it done before they go out of session. 

An upcoming resource for ag retailers will be a webinar on July 20 with officials at the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA.) Those officials will be explaining the recent changes to the hours of service regulations and what the agency has done to date in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information.

Regarding dicamba, Gupton says the dust has settled for 2020, however the future is still uncertain. 

“We are glad for now, the litigation from this growing season is behind us. Retailers can work with farmers through July 31 with the existing stocks order,” he says. “We don’t know what the next season will entail. But our members need to be able to have long-term planning.”
 

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