USTR Froman Welcoming WTO Decisions Regarding the Trade Facilitation Agreement

November 27, 2014  U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, released the following statement welcoming decisions taken at the World Trade Organization (WTO) enabling full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO’s 20-year history.

“The WTO has taken a critical step forward by breaking the impasse that has prevailed since July. I am pleased that the United States was able to work with India and other WTO members to find an approach that preserved the letter and spirit of the package of decisions reached at last year’s Bali Ministerial Conference.”

“The Trade Facilitation Agreement has the potential to fundamentally reform global customs practices and substantially reduce the costs and time associated with goods crossing borders. It’s a perfect example of how breaking down barriers to trade can unlock new opportunities for developed and developing countries alike, and it’s a particularly important win for small and businesses in all countries.”

“With this win under the WTO’s belt, we can once again focus our efforts on revitalizing the organization’s core negotiating functions.”

The TFA and other parts of the Bali Package had been put into question on July 1, when a small group of WTO Members blocked adoption of the Protocol of Amendment for the TFA by the deadline established in the Bali Package. The United States recently worked with India to break this impasse, and the General

Council adopted decisions today which endorse the approach agreed upon by the United States and India. These decisions include: adoption of a protocol enabling full implementation of the TFA; a decision on public stockholding for food security, clarifying that a “peace clause” against legal challenges to certain public stockholding programs will continue until a permanent solution on such programs is agreed and adopted; and a decision to extend until July 2015 the deadline for developing a work program covering all remaining issues in the Doha Round of negotiations.

USTR Statement on TFA 20141127

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Immigration

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

That’s the real amnesty –- leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose –- a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.

I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that’s not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it.

Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.

These people –- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends –- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant –- so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows –- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless this country we love.

The White House_Immigration 20141120

USFRA To Lead Sustainability Conversation at NY Times Food For Tomorrow Event November 12

CHESTERFIELD, MO. – The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) will bring the voices of farmers and ranchers to the New York Times Food for Tomorrow conference when it will host a breakfast and panel discussion, “Big Ag, Big Food: How Being Good for the Environment Is Not about Size” on Wednesday, November 12 at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.

“USFRA is excited to have the opportunity to add the perspectives of farmers and ranchers on our panels to this important gathering of food minds,” said Randy Krotz, chief executive officer of USFRA.  “During the discussion, panelists will have the opportunity to share their point of view on the role sustainability plays in today’s production practices. Our organization was created to give the trusted voice of modern agriculturalists the opportunity to lead the discussion about how food is grown and raised in this country. The panelists are looking forward to sharing their unique farmer and rancher perspectives on issues affecting today’s food systems with the Food for Tomorrow attendees.”

Frank Sesno, Director, School of Media and Public Affairs, Creator and Host of Planet Forward at the George Washington University, former Washington Bureau Chief and Anchor for CNN, will moderate the 30-minute Food Dialogues-style panel at 8:30 a.m. EST on Wed., Nov. 12. The discussion will explore sustainability initiatives on today’s American farms and how some of the largest farms are the early adapters of the most innovative practices. The panel will also highlight the environmental values that all farmers and ranchers share – whether growing or raising food at small, local or large operations.

The panel will include:

  • Julie Maschhoff, Pig farmer, The Maschhoffs, Carlyle, Ill.
  • Bruce Rominger, Farmer, Rominger Brothers Farm, Winters, Calif.
  • Joan Ruskamp, Cattle feeder, J&S Feedlot, Dodge, Neb.

The first annual New York Times Food for Tomorrow conference will explore two of the most important food challenges facing the world in the 21st century: how to feed a growing population of the world’s poor and how to reverse poor eating habits in the developed world. The sold-out event will gather over 200 C-suite executives, researchers, N.G.O. leaders and important thought leaders about food issues for a day-and-a-half of networking and discussion.

“USFRA’s goal is to increase consumer confidence in modern agriculture and Food for Tomorrow is the perfect venue to have a thoughtful discussion about food and production issues,” said Krotz.

For more information about USFRA or its signature event series, The Food Dialogues, visit www.FoodDialogues.com. Follow the panel discussion on USFRA’s Twitter handle @USFRA using #FoodD and #NYFFT. To review a video recap of the session, visitwww.FoodDialogues.com/events/food-for-tomorrow. For more information about The New York Times Food for Tomorrow conference, visit http://www.nytfoodfortomorrow.com/.

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 About The Food Dialogues®

The Food Dialogues signature events are designed to bring together farmers, ranchers, industry experts, scientists, media and consumers for dynamic panel discussions on some of today’s most pressing topics related to food and food production. Since its launch in 2011, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance has hosted 24 panels across the country.

About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance®

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is a group of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners leading a movement to answer questions about how food is grown and raised. USFRA provides resources and tools to navigate today’s food issues landscape with a broader goal of building trust in American agriculture.

USFRA to Lead Sustainability Conversation at NY Times Food For Tomorrow Event November 12

USDA Farm Service Agency Key Dates for 2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

Land Owners Can Update Yield History and/or Reallocate Base Acres through Feb. 27, 2015 

Producers Select the Safety Net Program Best for Their Operation

Beginning Nov. 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new programs, designed to help producers better manage risk, usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.

“The ARC and PLC programs are a significant reform in the farm safety net,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini. “FSA wants to keep producers well informed on all steps in the process. We will continue our outreach efforts and maintain resources online to help them understand the new programs before they come in to make decisions for their operations.”

Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:

    • Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015: Land owners may visit their local Farm Service Agency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.
    • Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.
    • Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
    • October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.

USDA leaders will visit with producers across the country to share information and answer questions on the ARC and PLC programs.

USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time. USDA provided $3 million to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), along with the University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education) to develop these online tools.

USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Key Dates for New 2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

USDA Announces Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2014 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced several steps that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems.

“Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today,” said Vilsack. “USDA, working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, must continue to identify ways to encourage producers to adopt diverse tactics for weed management in addition to herbicide control. The actions we are taking today are part of this effort.”

Today USDA is announcing several of the steps it is taking to help farmers manage their herbicide resistant weed problems in a more holistic and sustainable way:

  • USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.
  • Later this year NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
  • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will actively promote use of best management practices (BMPs) in design protocols for regulated authorized releases of genetically engineered (GE) crops and will include recommendations for BMPs with the authorization of field trials of HR crops.
  • USDA is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide–resistant weeds. The Secretary has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort with the USDA.

The issue of herbicide resistant weeds has become one of increasing importance for agriculture. When herbicides are repeatedly used to control weeds, the weeds that survive herbicide treatment can multiply and spread.

With EPA’s announcement today on the registration of new uses for herbicide mixtures containing the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate (in the Enlist® formulation) in conjunction with new genetically engineered crop varieties, farmers are being offered one more new tool to better manage emerging populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in corn and soybeans crops. In its decision for 2,4-D use on genetically modified corn and soybean, EPA has outlined new requirements for registrants as part of a product stewardship program.

The USDA Office of Pest Management Policy worked with EPA to address the issue of herbicide resistance through appropriate label language that will require registrants to develop a stewardship program for the herbicide, develop training and education on proper use of the product that includes diversifying weed management, investigate and report nonperformance, and develop and implement a remediation plan for suspected herbicide resistant weeds.

EPA intends to require the same stewardship plans for all new applications for product registration on genetically modified crops with the goal being to encourage effective resistance management while maintaining needed flexibility for growers.

USDA recognizes that the problem of herbicide resistant weed control will not be solved solely through the application of new herbicides. USDA has worked with the Weed Science Society of America for a number of years on identifying best management practices for farmers and on addressing impediments to adoption of those practices.

USDA will continue to work to ensure that growers have the diverse tools they need to address the management of herbicide resistant weeds.

USDA Announces Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

NAGC Announces Partnership with AG IDG

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center and Ag Innovation Development Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating the parties will work together to accelerate the commercialization of agricultural technology.  The technologies created will increase farm production, improve sustainability and increase income.

“Partnerships like this are important to the economic future of American farmers,” said Richard Vierling, Ph.D., director of research for NCGA. “We need to attract more money into agricultural startups. Vetting technology through NAGC will help identify commercially viable technologies and lower the risk for investors.”

NAGC, a joint venture between the National Corn Growers Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide research and testing services to both public and private researchers. The center will translate scientific discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

The partnership developed as AgIDC focuses on commercializing early stage innovations. AgIDC identifies and protects novel technology, forms startup companies and takes an active role in management.

“Ag Innovation Development Group was founded to help increase the efficiency of commercializing university research in the agricultural sector to benefit farmers,” said Ag Innovation Development Group CEO Pete Nelson. “A core part of this mission is to partner with farm organizations and their commercialization efforts. The partnership with NAGC will allow us to achieve this mission and ultimately grow more startup companies in the agricultural sector.”

Background Nov. 13, 2012: The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announce the incorporation of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC). Structured as a non-profit initiative for the purpose of agricultural development, the NAGC will leverage the benefits of high-throughput genotyping with the support of two of the nation’s most prominent organizations in the fields of science and agriculture. With incorporation complete, the NAGC now seeks partners looking to become a part of this project.

“In the coming years, genotyping is expected to be a part of every aspect of agriculture from breeding to production to the table,” said DeVonna Zeug, chair of NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team. “NAGC will also be a driver for business development and a conduit for new technology into agriculture.”

NAGC was created to ensure high-throughput genotyping is available to everyone and utilizes Los Alamos’s Multiplexed Oligonucleotide Ligation-PCR (MOL-PCR) platform to generate highly accurate information faster and more cheaply than currently possible. MOL-PCR is able to detect desirable genetic variations in DNA sequences, the presence of specific pathogens, and other agents. Identification of these variations has important applications in crop and livestock breeding programs, the development of drugs and vaccines and the diagnosis of human, animal and plant disease.

The access to genotyping technology available at NAGC will help drive scientific discoveries and translate these discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy, and national security.   “As a national security science laboratory, we find the prospect of working with NACG exciting,” said Dr. David R. Pesiri, leader of Los Alamos’s Technology Transfer Division. “Agricultural security is a key element of national security and our partnership with NAGC complements this aspect of our mission.”

For further information on the Center, its objectives and organizing partners, click here. Those interested in becoming part of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center project may contact NCGA Director of Research and Business Development Dr. Richard Vierling directly by clicking here.

Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents more than 38,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for their members and their industry.  For more information on NCGA, click here.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and global security concerns.  For more information on LANL, click here.