WASHINGTON, May 3, 2016 - The ambitious goal set out by the Obama administration to complete negotiations this year with the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) may have just got more complicated after Greenpeace leaked what the group calls secret documents showing the positions of U.S. and EU negotiators.

Greenpeace says the documents show that the U.S. is trying to get the EU to back off its precautionary principle in favor of a more lenient attitude towards things like biotechnology. But there are few specifics in the leaked text and plenty of broad statements like one in the agriculture section in which the U.S. calls for “encouraging and supporting research and education to develop innovative new agricultural products and strategies that address global challenges related to the production of abundant, safe and affordable food, feed, fiber and energy.”

A spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative slammed third-party analyses, saying: “While the United States does not comment on the validity of alleged leaks, the interpretations being given to these texts appear to be misleading at best and flat out wrong at worst …  T-TIP will preserve, not undermine, our strong consumer, health, environmental standards, and position the U.S. and the EU to work together to push standards higher around the world. We look forward to having a fact-based discussion about what T-TIP seeks and does not seek to achieve."

Rice makes its T-TIP case. The next round of U.S.-EU negotiations won’t be held until July, but the USA Rice Federation got to make its case for increased access to European buyers during last week’s meetings in New York City.

USA Rice Chairman Dow Brantley huddled with U.S. negotiators before the meetings started and Kristen Dayton, the group’s policy manager made a presentation to both sides.

"The EU imports many types of rice grown in the U.S., but employs a complex tariff regime that hurts our export interests," Dayton said. "Tariff eliminations on all U.S. exports to the EU are a key objective for U.S. negotiators."

Indiana holds fate of stop-Trump effort, Stutzman. Today’s Indiana primary may be one of the last real chances for Republicans who are opposed to Donald Trump from stopping him locking up the nomination before the Cleveland convention. Indiana is widely considered to be one of the most hospitable states left on the calendar for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But he has still been trailing Trump by an average of 9 percent in recent polls, according to RealClear Politics.

The trade issue cuts both ways in Indiana. Although the state's farmers benefits from exports of corn, soybeans and pork, Trump has appealed to anger about the state’s losses in manufacturing jobs. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a fourth-generation farmer and Tea Party favorite who is one of the most vocal proponents for removing nutrition programs from the farm bill, is trying to defeat fellow House member Todd Young for the GOP Senate nomination. 

Indiana Republican leaders are said to be wary of a repeat of what happened in 2012 when another Tea Party favorite, Richard Murdock, knocked off incumbent Richard Lugar and then lost the general election race. The winner of today’s primary will face former Democratic Rep. Baron Hill. The incumbent, Dan Coats, is retiring. 

USDA boosts funding to combat antibiotic resistance. The Obama administration continues to focus its efforts on reducing the threat of antibiotic resistant germs, often found in the food supply. The USDA announced Monday it’s adding another $6 million in funding for research.

“Through our Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics, and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release.

Make sure you check out the full story by Agri-Pulse’s Whitney Forman-Cook.

Rural electric group brings concerns to Capitol Hill. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is in D.C. this week for its annual legislative conference. Beyond the closed-door co-op policy meetings, members are hitting the Hill to deliver their concerns to lawmakers.

Among the actions being called for by the group that represents more than 900 electric co-ops is legislation to improve federal land management practices in order cut down on the risk of fires where utilities have operating rights.

“Streamlining federal government management practices on these federal lands will make it easier for electric co-ops to maintain safety and reliability by performing needed vegetation management to prevent threats to power lines and respond to emergencies,” a spokeswoman for the group said.

Another priority for the co-op group is an extension of the geothermal tax credit under the tax code.  “Highly-efficient ground-source heat pumps deserve tax parity with other alternative energy sources like wind and solar that had their tax incentives extended in 2015,” the spokeswoman said.

Obama makes new TPP argument. President Barack Obama on Monday put out a new argument in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, echoing a theme popular with his cabinet members in recent months: If the U.S. doesn’t lead the way in trade, China will. And the communist country won’t do it in a way that Americans will like.

Speaking in an opinion piece published by the Washington Post, Obama warned that China was already gathering countries together to form a broad trade pact while the fate of the TPP is uncertain because of opposition in Congress. 

“As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk,” Obama said in the column. “This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of the year.”

Oxfam America to USDA: Keep your peanuts. Oxfam America and more than 60 other organizations sent a letter to USDA yesterday calling for the immediate cancellation of a planned shipment of U.S. peanuts to Haiti.

“While the gesture may be well-intentioned, this program stands to become the latest in a long history of U.S-sponsored programs that have destabilized Haiti’s agricultural sector, driving the nation further into poverty while increasing its dependence on foreign aid,” the groups said in their letter. “Peanuts play a central role in Haiti’s economy and are a critical foundation of its food security and food sovereignty.”

Oxfam America said the 500-metric-ton shipment would have “devastating consequences” for “at least half a million rural people in Haiti, especially women, whose livelihoods depend on peanuts and the production chain to make manba (Haitian peanut butter).”

Philip Brasher and Whitney Forman-Cook contributed to this report.

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