Trading with Trump

US-UK Trade Deal

This is a fabulous metaphor for US foreign food policy - 'Diet' sounds good, but you/we end up consuming more food. The US want to 'dump' food but been frustrated with EU blocking their food exports for years, because of poor standards.

Fat coke

Donald J.Trump drinks a dozen diet cokes a day. What better image of US food policy! 'Fat Coke please' explains how 'diet drinks' put on weight. The sweeteners replace ordinary sugars with worse sugars (more below), that encourage us to eat more.He has a Body Mass Index of 29.5. Healthy' is considered 18- 25, so he is overweight and just short of being 'obese' = 30.Sweeteners as bad as sugar for obesity and diabetes
Unearthed’ (part of Greenpeace) found a shadow US-UK trade deal created by a new group Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), launched in the Foreign and Commonwealth office, with a speech by Liam Fox. This is what IFT have to say about agriculture “There are big potential savings for UK consumers when it comes to agricultural produce. Thanks to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, its common external tariff and quota regimes, and its use of the precautionary principle to ban non-EU products from the market, British consumers have for decades suffered higher food prices and more limited choice. US exporters of agricultural produce - beef, for instance - would have a brand new market to sell to, and British consumers a cheaper alternative to the current options."

is a policy initiative shaped in consultation with a group of other conservative libertarian thinktanks (inc Cato Institute) on both sides of the Atlantic Sept 18. They argue for a free trade agreement that would loosen government controls on capital and data flows and be “more liberalising than any other free trade agreement in the world”. They say that it could become a model for future deals post-Brexit. It would remove tariffs and throw out the precautionary principle that has guided much EU regulation on GM foods, chlorine-washed chicken, hormones in meat, pesticides and chemicals in cosmetics. * Around a 100 years ago the 'Cato Street conspiracy'' against the then cabinet was found out and the conspirators killed.
Trump says Chequers 'plan' will kill any possible US-UK trade deal - because they would be dealing with the EU not UK. This is reference to 'sticking to the EU rulebook'. A few hours later a change of mind - or was it fake news - for ambitious US-UK trade deal

The UK has embraced agriculture as a topic to be covered in future trade talks. However, the European Union insists that revived EU-US trade talks, based on the limited mandate agreed by Presidents Trump and Juncker in July, should not include agriculture. Only soya can be considered for negotiation.'

Standards

Over 80% of people polled would prefer to keep to EU food standards rather than lower them for US deal - even if means dumping any UK-US trade deal - and that is equal among Remain and Brexit voters.The Telegraph: Concerns over chlorine-washed chicken could delay US trade deal, says Michael Gove. Media is 'obsessed' with chlorine washed chicken says Liam Fox. We will hear a lot about 'chlorinated chickens', 'hormone beef', and old favourite 'GM corn'; but also check out ractopamine pig. Ractopamine to produce leaner pork is another substance banned in EU but used in USA - where it escapes the USDA organic certificate, as it neither a growth hormone nor an antibiotic.These all reflect aspects of the bigger issue - the US 'efficiency' of food production. History shows that the more food produced means lower farmgate prices. A 'good' harvest produces less money - apples are left on the ground to rot. To make up for this tendency, food has to be produced 'more efficiently'. The USA have been overproducing since the last world war, so they have driven 'efficiency' more.We in the UK produce only half the food we eat, so are a target for US food exports. EU subsidies have protected farm and food producers. The US will challenge the science of any of our 'ban's' (properly called sanitary measures) - they are allowed to under WTO rules. Where the US may have 'lost' various challenges versus the EU, we are in a weaker position. Trump established a task force early on to promote US agriculture including its exports. They want to remove agricultural trade barriers with EU - which they consider are not 'science-based'. See Bittersweet Brexit Sect 3 on 'Science' for details of possible debates around chemicals, additives, GMOs and other practices. The US will try to impose their standards in any US-UK deal, as this is how they produce what they do profitably. It is not just meat we need to look out for, as the US will want to export all of the food products they overproduce, particularly grain and corn.
Many here are concerned that any US-UK deal will involve weakening of many animal welfare and food safety standards, like the chickens and beef. However some are also concerned about pesticides. In Dec 2017, the EFRA Select Committee challenged Gove & Eustace (12.00 - 04) on effects of a US deal, in terms of lower standards regarding pesticides, in particular whether we could check for residues of say neonicotinoids, Eustace pointed to the Pesticide Residues in Food Committee's good work. Neonics in food residues are controlled by Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) set by the international UN body called CODEX. Neonics are now banned here. Increase food safety risks by 10X according to Sustain "The US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention reports around 380 deaths in the US each year attributed to foodborne salmonella poisoning. The most recent epidemiological lab data from Public Health England shows no deaths in England and Wales from salmonella between 2005 and 2015. Salmonella food poisoning is most commonly caused by consumption of contaminated food of animal origin, such as beef, chicken, milk, fish or eggs." That is why we have a system that eliminates salmonella in the chicken flock, whereas the US rely on killing off the stuff -'chlorinating chicken'. In the end we prefer prevention rather than curing contamination.Difference in Allergen labeling
America’s powerful dairy lobby has opened talks with the Trump administration about a future UK-US trade deal and indicated it wants to see Britain relax its standards on a key measure of milk quality as part of the price for a transatlantic accord. Washington has already said it considers the UK and European Union milk standard to be a “trade barrier”. “Mega-farms” housing up to 36,000 cows at a time in large barns rather than on pasture are increasingly common, have enjoyed a massive export boost in recent years due to the NAFTA free trade deal with Canada and Mexico and are gearing up to to boost exports of powdered milk and cheese to post-Brexit Britain. The US dairy industry is targeting rules on the number of so-called “somatic” cells allowed in milk. These white blood cells are produced by cows to fight bacterial infections and can be an indicator of conditions such as mastitis, a type of udder infection. American rules allow almost double the level of these to be permitted in milk compared with Britain and the EU – 750,000 cells/ml as opposed to 400,000 cells/ml. More Complete document of what US considers 'trade barriers'
Other not-so-good standards: Frozen berries can contain up to four larvae or 10 whole insects per 500g. That doesn't seem too bad - what you may expect from harvesting nature (and see these opinions). The FDA call these sorts of contaminations 'unavoidable defects'. This is the one to worry about: The US Food and Drug Administration allows for five rodent hairs (and 150 insect parts) in every 18oz jar of peanut butter. Where do these 'rodent hairs' come from? It says something about the conditions to make the butter More . The FDA classifies the impacts as either 'aesthetic' - as in this instance - or 'potential health' (for mouldy products). FDA Defects Level Handbook gives details of what is allowed.In UK we have pretty strict pest control in food processing.Over 80% of British public would rather ditch a trade deal with the US than drop food standards

Tariffs

It is not just standards (Sanitary Measures) that are part of Single Market, but also the tariffs (Customs Union) which are most important. If we reduce or remove the tariffs we had as a part of EU, more US food will come in. There will be strong forces at work to drop tariffs on US food imports - so we can flog them our financial services, white goods - and NHS.A 'shadow' US-UK Trade talk and an Ideal FTA was published by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), who launched in Sept 2017 at Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Their US-UK Ideal FTA spells out "There are big potential savings for UK consumers when it comes to agricultural produce. Thanks to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, its common external tariff and quota regimes, and its use of the precautionary principle to ban non-EU products from the market, British consumers have for decades suffered higher food prices and more limited choice. US exporters of agricultural produce - beef, for instance - would have a brand new market to sell to, and British consumers a cheaper alternative to the current options." Unearthed of Greenpeace say:" These plans will absolutely throw agriculture under the bus. The bus with £350m on the side". It says to me 'bugger our farmers and farmworkers'. We spend less than 10% of our earnings now on food - it is not like when the Corn Laws were repealed. 'suffrered?' The retailers tell us all the time about how much choice we have. The IFT includes the Legatum Institute, which we saw in regards to getting rid of subsidies and tariffs like they did in New Zealand.

Trade War


US v China trade war could mean 25% tax on US soya to China, that could threaten 1/3 of all US soya. Where might they sell it? We already import £800,000 worth of soya. Why do we import that much? To feed our cattle and to feed ourselves. See cartoon in CAP
Trump compensates US farmers. "US farmers have been granted £3.65 billion in compensation to offset direct loss of income due to global retaliation for tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, Soya farmers will get 50% payment of their crop, with dairy and pork doing well to to compensate them for loss of trade. "After October 1, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has authority to ‘buy back’ US farm produce of £958m. Farm commodities purchased appear in nutritional programmes that support low-income American families."
Two months later...Trump pours £12b to farmers to deal with China canceling £140 m worth of soya, and inceased tariffs on cherries, along with the EU and India putting up tariffs on various food goods. The government will provide direct payments to growers and producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, pork and dairy. The second part includes a “food purchase and distribution - to nutrition assistance - programs.". The third part is directed to find new markets abroad. Like us?
India, China and the EU, have filed a complaint with the WTO against Trump’s tariff policies.

Protected Geographical Indications

US lobbyists are calling for UK to drop geographical name protection. Under EU law, PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) protects foods such as Cornish pasties, Melton Mowbray pies and Scotch Whisky from being produced by others elsewhere to different recipes. The US has challenged to whole process of GI through the WTO. The US Dairy Export Council blasted the “preposterous” rules which allow Italy to “monopolise” terms like Parmesan, saying “We think the ability to take a fresh look at UK regulation through the Brexit process provides the UK with a great opportunity for taking a much more reasonable approach to what’s been a very controversial issue over the years". They want to make their own versions of our 85 protected products, including Arbroath Smokies, Herefordshire Perry and Swaledale Cheese. Whether the EU continue to protect our GI products, once we leave, has yet to be decided

Sugars..

The most concern for me is all the sugars and sweeteners will wash over us and make us even more obese - already the most obese country in Europe. The Mediterranean diet will be replaced by bowls of cornflakes - coated in HFCS, and baked beans. HFCS is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and produced from corn (thanks to Butz - see below) It is is found as a sweetener in many foods - in the US. HFCS is called Isoglucose in EU, and was subject of most important case in development of the EU parliament when it put a 600% tariff on it. See book for the story. Isoglucose (ie HFCS) is worse for us than our normal sugar - sucrose. See Lustig 'Bitter Truth'. Quotas limiting amount of it grown in the EU have been removed, so there is expected to be a rapid rise homegrown of Isoglucose production and consumption.There are worries about putting on weight following US trade deal - same happened with Mexico. Some years ago, Cargill won claim over Mexican government for putting tax on HFCS. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes issued a $77m award Ongoing row between Mexico and USA - who accuse Mexico of subsidising and dumping sugar. Coca cola need their sugar. US sugar producers want stricter rules on Mexican imports. If USA does retaliate, Mexico threatens the £18bn imports of US food, which includes 80% of their HFCS exports. Deal done with less refined Mexican sugar exported to USA. None of this is for health reasons - see BB book 'Favourite Foods :Sugar.. The tariffs on HFCS nothing to do with 'health', although fructose worse for us than 'sucrose' but because sugar manufacturers are threatened by HFCS - or 'Isoglucose' as EU calls it. Isoglucose case - possible the biggest in EU history.
Another sweetener replacing sugars in 'diet' drinks is aspartame, made from combining two chemicals, one which is L-phenylalanine made by fermenting - er molasses. Aspartame is being replaced / mixed with by sucralose. Sucralose is produced primarily Tate & Lyle, ardent Brexiteers - opposed to quotas & tariffs on their sugar cane imports.

US Farm Act

The US subsidies its farmers and food to about same amount as the EU - around $50 billion, and is being renegotiated now. The farm bill funds nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (about 80%) and major agricultural programs such as crop subsidies and insurance (14 per%) plus conservation programs (6%percent) and research. Top 1% of farmers by size get over 25% subsidies. “Around 95 percent of the current subsidies are going to crops that are then turned into animal feed, fuel, or processed food,” says Kari Hamerschlag He wants to produce more food crops for eating.
LatestFarm bill was ultimately designed to offer benefits to both very rural and very urban districts, essentially subsidized by suburban districts. This was accomplished by providing subsidies to farmers while also providing subsidized food to poor urban Americans, through either SNAP (food stamps) or subsidized school breakfasts and lunches. But now there are virtually no rural Democratic seats and no urban Republican seats - so it is war. Although much of SNAP programme also goes to rural areas where many poor.

Exporting Foodstuffs to the US

Those exporting food stuffs to the US have to provide all manner of documents in order to enter the US. 7 point list by knowledgeable exporter. And then there is the matter of rules of origin on top of that. The rules enable countries making a free trade deal to exclude their own products from a tariff - for it is 'UK origin'. But the rules on what constitutes 'UK origin are unclear - most UK flour is from UK but most has added N. American flour to make it 'harder'. If flour milled with even a small proportion of these grains, and many foodstuffs made from it, were no longer to be considered ‘of UK origin’ and they would therefore be subject to very significant duties.

US Foreign Food Policy

Remember Marshall Plan (Chapter 1 in Bittersweet Brexit p15) after WW2, when the US 'gave' a lot of food to Europe? Since then the US foreign policy has been based on 'giving' food for long term repayment to whoever is in need, whereas the rest of the world give 'aid' in terms of money.
Trump has reduced the farm subsidies, which comes as a surprise seeing how many mid-west farmers voted for him. US farm subsidies are different from EU in that they 'insure' farmers against unforeseen losses (weather and markets). The UK Agricultural Minister George Eustace proposes something similar for UK. It may be that Trump moves away from subsidies and encourages exporting excess. This is what happened in the 1970s when their Agricultural minister Earl Butz told corn farmers to 'grow row to row', meaning grow as much as you can. Butz took on to get rid of the excess corn/grain. He sold grain to Russia (Great Grain Robbery), replaced grass to feed cattle (intensive production - CAFOs), and produced of High Fructose Corn Syrup - the worst sweetener of all.
Check out why Butz had to resign - that produced this amazing Cab Calloway spoof. Trumps Food Politics 2017 include indefinite delay of key food safety protections and undermining implementation of their Food Safety Act across food chain - enabling spread of Salmonella more.

Latest

The UK wants absolute secrecy ahead of any 'free' trade talks with the US. The UK have virtually no negotiating experience compared to their US counterparts.After the US met our EFRA Committee, our chair said : "We had an open and constructive conversation with Secretary Perdue, saying the domestic US market presents significant opportunities for the UK food and farming industry, and following Brexit the Government should focus on securing a great bilateral trade deal with our US partners...It really matters to UK farmers and consumers that agreement on Tariff Rate Quotas is reached quickly with World Trade Organisation countries - including the US." That would mean cheap food from abroad to undercut ours. This is the massive issue - Finance versus Farming. The 'City' will want to import more food cheaply - replaying the 'Repeal of the Corn Laws' over 150 years ago. We need to subsidise our 'Country 'areas for real long term future.Previous US Ambassador says deal less likely. Trumps's refusal to come to open new US Embassy in London "should end hopes by some Brexiters that it could be done by Brexit day in March 2019." When Michael Gove spoke at Oxford Farming Conference in Jan 2018, he as accompanied by a US trade secretary Ted McKinney

Me, Trump & Trade Deal

I was invited to speak at the Global Justice Now event in Bradford (Artworks, The Delius Centre ) January 18, 7-8.30 entitled 'Trade with Trump' - around the possible US-UK Trade Deal.openDemocracy included Bittersweet Brexit in their 'Best political books of 2017' - under 'Trump & Brexit', saying: "the first serious attempt to explore the #ToryBrexit consequences for farming, land and food inflation."