WASHINGTON, May 22 2016 - President Obama will be talking up the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Vietnam and Japan this week with an eye toward keeping the pressure on Congress to approve the 12-nation trade pact.

Administration officials hope that showing progress on TPP implementation among Asian TPP partners will make it easier to overcome congressional resistance to the agreement, which has grown with the steady attacks on TPP during the presidential campaign.

The administration had already sent teams to Vietnam, where Obama arrived Sunday, to talk to officials there about what the obligations they’re taking on under the TPP, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who accompanied Obama on the trip. 

Obama can be counted on to talk about TPP when he addresses the Vietnamese people directly on Tuesday from Hanoi, and an aide says the president will discuss the agreement with a group of young entrepreneurs later in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ahead of Obama’s departure Saturday, three congressional critics of the TPP appealed to him to visit a fish farm and garment factory while he’s in Vietnam. The three Democrats charged in a letter to the White House that the aquaculture facilities are overcrowded and make heavy use of antibiotics. 

“The country’s food safety regime is dangerously inadequate compared to U.S. standards,” wrote the lawmakers, Louise Slaughter and Paul Tonko of New York and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

The lawmakers said it’s not enough for Vietnam to show progress in complying with TPP requirements. They “must be fully implemented and enforced in Vietnam. We expect full compliance with the pact.”

Back in Washington, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., continue to negotiate on a biotech disclosure bill. As Agri-Pulse reported,  Roberts said he is “very hopeful” the two can reach a deal, but agreement on several issues remain elusive. 

Stabenow was doubtful that they could reach a deal before the week-long Memorial Day break, which means the talks will likely continue into June with the July 1 effective date of the Vermont GMO labeling law looming. “Five weeks ago I gave complete legislative language to Sen. Roberts. Im glad that this week were having discussions,” Stabenow said in an interview last week.

The issue is likely to be on the minds of members of the Organic Trade Association as they visit Capitol Hill this week and hold their policy conference on Wednesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will address the policy conference along with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Senate’s chief proponent of mandatory GMO labeling and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Also on Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee will hold an unusual hearing on the issue of food waste. The hearing is part of Chairman Mike Conway’s effort to reach out to groups and colleagues beyond conventional agriculture.

That same day, chef food policy advocate Tom Colicchio will be on Capitol Hill with the Food Policy Action Education Fund lobbying lawmakers to address food waste. 

Conaway, R-Texas, told Agri-Pulse that food waste is an issue where hes been finding common ground with groups and lawmakers who are often critical of traditional farm policy. Conaway worked with Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree, a big proponent of organic and small-scale agriculture, in setting up the hearing.

Earlier this month, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the National Consumers League released a survey indicating that “Sell by” and “best by” date labels found on food packaging were confusing to consumers may be contributing to food waste.

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Conaway earlier held a hearing on the challenges facing growers who sell through farmers markets or directly to consumers and restaurants. 

Also on Wednesday, executives from several top food and beverage companies, including Kellogg, Mars, PepsiCo and Unilever, will hold a news conference with Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to talk about the need for Congress to address climate change.

The livestock industry and organic sector will also get attention from policy makers this week. A House Agriculture subcommittee is holding a hearing on the economic issues in the livestock sector on Tuesday and the Senate Agriculture Committee will follow suit on Thursday.

Heres a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:

Monday, May 23

American Wind Energy Association annual Windpower conference, through Thursday, New Orleans.

4 p.m. - USDA releases Crop Progress report.

Tuesday, May 24

EPA Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee meeting through Wednesday, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

10 a.m. - House Agriculture subcommittee hearing, “Focus on the Farm Economy: A View from the Barnyard,” 1300 Longworth.

10:30 a.m. - House Appropriations Committee markup of the fiscal 2017 Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD bills, 2359 Rayburn.

2 p.m. - House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on “Investigating the Culture of Corruption at the Department of the Interior,” 1334 Longworth.

2:30 p.m. - Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing on implementation of the “waters of the United States” rule, 406 Dirksen.

3 p.m. - Hearing by House Judiciary Committee’s executive overreach task force, “The Federal Government on Autopilot: Delegation of Regulatory Authority to an Unaccountable Bureaucracy,” 2141 Rayburn.

Wednesday, May 25

Food Policy Action Education Fund Food Waste Reduction Advocacy Day.

All day - Organic Trade Association policy conference, The Newseum.

9 a.m. - USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook.

10 a.m. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at OTA conference.

10 a.m. - House Agriculture Committee hearing on food waste, 1300 Longworth.

11 a.m. - House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee markup of its fiscal 2017 spending bill, B-308 Rayburn.

2 p.m. - Representatives of food and beverage companies hold news conference to call on Congress to address climate change, 1540A Longworth.

Thursday, May 26

8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

9:30 a.m. - House Science, Space and Technology hearing on the impact of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on states, 2318 Rayburn.

10 a.m. - Bipartisan Policy Center’s CEO Council on Sustainability and Innovation forum, “Toward a Sustainable Future in Food and Agriculture,” 1225 Eye St. NW.

10 a.m. - Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, “A Review of the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Sectors: Marketplace Opportunities and Challenges,” 216 Hart.

12:30 p.m. - CDC Director Tom Frieden speaks at National Press Club luncheon.

Friday,  May 27


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