Earlier this week the North Carolina Agribusiness Council hosted a candidates’ forum featuring candidates for the US House of Representatives for North Carolina Districts 2,4,7,8, and 13. Later the same day candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, commissioners of insurance, labor and agriculture participated in the forum. Outgoing president of the Agribusiness Council Ray Best:
“I was very pleased with the participation by the candidates and I think the folks that attended got a real opportunity to see where people stand on issues that are most important in agriculture.”
While Best wouldn’t admit to being surprised by any one candidate’s responses, he did have this thought:
“I think it was plain for folks who were here to see who has really studied to understand the issues affecting agriculture. That is really the intention of our event so folks can see how candidates stand on issues important to them.”
We’ll be covering the Candidates’ Forum this week on our site.
Mississippi River in Trouble
Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain – President of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture – predicts water is going to become one of the most critical issues facing both agriculture and industry. About a year ago – Strain reminds people of the flood issue. This year – he says – the conditions are far different…
“We have been engaged the last few weeks with the issue of trying to get barges down the Mississippi River. On the issue of diverting money for dredging, spending it elsewhere. On any given year our shippers pay $1.5-1.6 billion a year as a tax on the goods and the ships for dredging. Of that money only about $750 million has been spent on dredging.”
Right now – Strain says the river is so low – one key area that exports millions of bushels of grain can't move anything.
US Gains from Russia’s Acceptance into WTO Hard to Identify
The U.S. will gain limited benefits from Russia’s official entry into the World Trade Organization until Congress revokes earlier human rights sanctions against Moscow. Now that Russia’s finally in the WTO after an 18-year long – on again off again bid – what do U.S. producers get out of it – an end to restrictions on pork and poultry? Not so fast – according to American Farm Bureau Federation Trade Advisor Dave Salmonsen – who says the U.S. will lose key breaks until the Congress normalizes bi-lateral trade ties outside the WTO framework…
“On the sanitary measures which have been the real hold up in our trade in our meat, especially pork and poultry, or in using the WTO settlement system.”
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have both acted to meet conditions the Russian Parliament has set to treat U.S. meat imports as matching standards equal to Russian product. But the full House and Senate won’t vote until September at the earliest to end decades old human rights sanctions against Russia – holding up normalized trade.
South Carolina Moving Forward on Inland Port
The South Carolina State Ports Authority is moving ahead with plans for an inland port.
The authority on Tuesday authorized President and CEO Jim Newsome to take any actions needed to build the port at a cost of up to $25 million. The money is already in the agency budget.
The port near Greer would provide more efficient movement of cargo by rail. It's been estimated trains could eliminate 50,000 truck trips a year on busy Interstate 26 between Charleston and the Greenville-Spartanburg area.