U.S., Europe Trade Deal A Challenge for Agriculture

Farm Foundation forum participants outline hurdles for TTIP, remain positive it can provide freer trade between U.S. and EU

Published on: Jul 18, 2013

While he believes ag and related industries – including manufacturers of technology-rich farming equipment – want to see a "rational discussion" between negotiators to move forward, he doesn't anticipate a "complete nirvana as a result of the TTIP."

"We need to be realistic here," he said. "We need technology. We need to use existing resources in a more efficient way."

O'Mara said one of the things that many stakeholders are talking about now is food labeling and genetically modified organisms. The EU implemented labeling of GMOs in 2004.

We're not seeking to change their approach to labeling – that's not our desire with this agreement. We want to find ways to facilitate trade," O'Mara said.

Point blank, O'Mara said his organization sees biotechnology only getting bigger and the EU FTA an opportunity to cooperate on that trend.

"Agriculture and technology is synonymous at this point, and we need to embrace that," he said.

Read more: EU Energy, Biotech Policies Cast Doubt on Trade Agreement

American Farm Bureau trade specialist Dave Salmonsen Monday shared a similar outlook on the trade deal in an AFBF interview, but he explained further the outlook from the EU side.

"They want better access for their beef products—we have some restraints against that that they want looked at," he said.

EU also has an issue called "geographic indications," Salmonsen explained, where they want to have recognition of their system in the U.S. of relating food products to a specific region of Europe.

That's where common names of food products come into play – parmesan cheese, for example, originates from the Parma region of Italy. "We have a disagreement of how those trademarks are going to be used," Salmonsen said.

Despite the seemingly steep road that's ahead, negotiations will continue this fall on the TTIP during a second round.

"These same people have been working on this issue and the run up to this over the last two years and they will continue to work in contact with each other throughout this period of a few months between rounds," Salmonsen said. "And then when the next round happens they’ll have more new papers, new ideas in front of them, and they’ll see if they can make progress on these."

Read more about TTIP:
Farm Bureau 'Cautiously Hopeful' On TTIP Negotiations
Pork Producers Would Benefit From TTIP
EU Energy, Biotech Policies Cast Doubt on Trade Agreement
Livestock Industry Ready for 'Comprehensive' FTA with EU