American Soybean farmer testifies on soy aspects of European trade agreement
ST. LOUIS – Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del., and Executive Committee member of the American Soybean Association (ASA), testified before the Trade Policy Staff Committee of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on agricultural and soybean-specific aspects of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the 27 member states of the European Union (EU).
In his remarks, Wilkins highlighted the importance of the EU marketplace for American soy, but noted the sharp decline in soy exports to the EU as a result of certain EU policies, including the labeling of products containing biotechnology and discriminatory policies on biofuel feedstocks under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
Wilkins specifically addressed the complications presented by the RED, which uses foreign data to impose greenhouse gas emission benchmark reduction requirements on American soy imports. The greenhouse gas formula for soy-biodiesel is based on production and transportation data for Brazil, he explained. This significantly understates the emissions reduction of U.S. biodiesel and thus limits the amount of biodiesel derived from U.S. soybeans that can qualify under RED.
Wilkins also addressed the EU’s conservation requirements; regulation of pesticides; the subsidizing of soybean production in new Ecological-Focus Areas, or EFAs; and obstacles to exports of U.S. meat products, the largest consumers of U.S. soybeans.
EU trade ministers are expected to move forward on an accord formalizing the start of negotiations on the TTIP by the end of June.