Capitol Hill lawmakers are enthused by the first step taken Monday in a lengthy process that could lead to a dispute panel under USMCA challenging Mexico’s efforts to block genetically modified corn imports from the U.S.
“While this is welcome news, it should have happened sooner,” Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said Monday in reaction to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s announcement that it is requesting “technical consultations” with Mexico over its decision to stop tortilla makers from using GM corn. “Nonetheless, this is an important step toward formal dispute consultations, and I appreciate (USTR) Katherine Tai’s attention to this matter.”
Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Mexico’s actions are a “clear-cut example of a partner going back on its word” and stressed that the U.S. has “an obligation to ensure American producers are given the fair access to markets they were promised.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called Mexico’s action on GM corn “a flagrant violation of USMCA” and stressed that the U.S. “should be prepared to pursue a full dispute settlement.”

Product of USA label proposal receives mixed reviews
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack got a standing ovation at the National Farmers Union convention Monday when he announced details on USDA’s new proposal to require meat, poultry or egg products carrying the “Product of the USA” label be derived from livestock born, raised, slaughtered and processed domestically.
But not everyone was cheering. The North American Meat Institute said the proposal conflicts with federal law, could trigger international trade retaliation, may raise prices for consumers, and would place additional duties on Food Safety Inspection Service officials who NAMI says are already “overburdened and understaffed.” 
NAMI also said the proposed rule “excludes many popular products made in America, by workers in America, and under inspection from the USDA,” including certain brands of hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ground beef and sliced ham.
Also from USDA: The department unveiled $89 million in grants under the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program. Nonprofit lenders in seven states will be able to use the funding for revolving loan funds to finance the startup, expansion and operation of meat and poultry processors. The investments are going to Alabama, Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Read more about Vilsack’s address to the NFU, as well as coverage of USDA’s seed competition report, at
State AGs fire warning over EPA’s E15 delay
Two of the states set to be allowed to sell E15 one year later than they had hoped under last week’s proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency have taken the first formal steps to challenge the slower timeline.
The attorney generals of Iowa and Nebraska on Monday filed an intent to sue over EPA’s plan to approve a governor’s petition to allow summer E15 sales for the summer of 2024, not 2023 as originally sought by the eight states. Now, the AGs argue EPA violated the law when it waited much longer than the 90-day timeline required to respond to the petition.
“The undue delay has led now to an even further delay of implementation,” they say in their notice. “EPA’s delay and inaction is, in effect, a constructive denial.”
Biden says he’d veto WOTUS resolution
Removing what little doubt might have existed, the White House says President Joe Biden would veto a resolution now working its way through the House to prevent the “waters of the U.S.” rule from becoming law.
A joint resolution introduced by Republican House and Senate members would have the effect of overturning the WOTUS rule, now scheduled to go into effect March 20.
“The final rule provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects, economic investments, and agricultural activities — all while protecting water quality,” the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee approved the resolution last week, and it was placed on the House calendar as an item that “may be considered.” The Senate has taken no action yet.
Boozman, Foxx ask USDA to extend comment period for proposed school nutrition standards
Two Republican leaders of committees dealing with child nutrition programs have asked the Agriculture Department for a 30-day extension on the public comment period for its proposed updates to school nutrition standards.
Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, told the department in a recent letter that school districts need more time to “assess the extensive practical implications” of the new rules.
Take note: The lawmakers say the updated rules will cost between $220 and $274 million annually for schools to implement, and that schools may need to make budget cuts in other areas in order to comply.
R-CALF RFID petition rejected by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has rejected a petition from a cattle growers group challenging how USDA has advanced the adoption of radio frequency ID tags to track interstate movement of livestock.
R-CALF sought to have the court answer the question of when a federal agency has “established” a federal advisory committee. R-CALF contends that two groups that provided technical advice to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service qualified as committees under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA, but lower courts disagreed. The Supreme Court denied the petition without explanation Monday.
“If APHIS is ultimately determined to have violated FACA, then APHIS is likely to be enjoined from making use of that technical advice in connection with its rulemaking,” R-CALF argued.
They said it: “Many commenters were concerned that utility patents have been used to restrict their ability to save seed, conduct research, and develop new varieties” – That’s from Monday’s report on the seed industry from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service: “More and Better Choices for Farmers: Promoting Fair Competition and Innovation in Seeds and Other Agricultural Inputs.”

Questions, comments, tips? Email Steve Davies.