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POLICY WATCH

US Formally Challenges Mexico GM Corn Ban 

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced formal dispute settlement consultations with Mexico, under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), regarding measures restricting agricultural biotechnology that will impact U.S. corn exports. The announcement says that Mexico, with its biotechnology policies, is violating the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter of the USMCA. The two governments will now begin formal dispute settlement consultations to resolve the issue. If there is no resolution, the U.S. can call for a dispute panel to decide the issues. Technical discussions that began in March 2023 have not resolved the issues. 

Mexican decrees, the latest in February 2023, say that certain U.S. corn (white corn), produced with biotechnology, will not be imported. Yellow corn produced with biotechnology can continue to be imported while Mexico looks for alternatives.  

“Nebraska Farm Bureau thanks the Biden administration for pursuing formal proceedings through United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement against Mexico’s proposed ban on Genetically Modified White Corn. This is an important first step to preserve the addition of a biotechnology title in USMCA, one of the largest wins for agriculture negotiated by President Trump and approved by Congress. As a leading producer of white corn, Nebraska farmers are at great risk if Mexico’s planned ban on bioengineered white corn and glyphosate is allowed to proceed in 2024. It is also important to note that a vast majority (more than 90 percent) of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to resist drought, herbicides, and pests and increase yields. Mexico also remains Nebraska’s largest corn trading partner and the proposed ban and future movement in this type of direction, could put in jeopardy over $2 billion in corn exports every year. We encourage the Biden Administration to stand steadfast in ensuring Mexico adheres to the agreement they signed back in 2019,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said.   

Nebraska Legislature Adjourns for 2023 

Senators adjourned the first session of the 108th Legislature June 1, on day 88 of the scheduled 90-day session. Below is a quick list of the highlights that the Legislature got done this year, thanks in part to the involvement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau members. More in-depth session wrap-ups will be coming your way soon.  

  • Property Tax Credit Act funding increase phased in. 
  • Refundable Income Tax Credits for property taxes paid to schools will increase at the same rate that the state’s real property valuations increase. 
  • Creation of a workable cap for schools on how much they can increase their revenue each year. 
  • Removal of property tax asking authority for community colleges. 
  • $1500 per public school student funding in the way of foundation aid. 
  • Eighty percent of special education expenses will be paid to public schools. 
  • $1 billion Education Future Fund ensures increased state aid to schools will be sustainable. 
  • Phased in reduction of individual and corporate income tax rates to 3.99 percent. 
  • Child Care Tax Credits for parents, childcare facilities, and childcare workers. 
  • Full funding of $574 million for the Perkins County Canal. 
  • $1 million for groundwater quality research. 
  • Broadband coordinator position and Nebraska Broadband Office created. 
  • Preservation of special valuation status for active farms over five acres that have been annexed into a city or a sanity improvement district. 
  • Ethanol blend tax incentives increased. 
  • Biodiesel tax credit of $0.14 per gallon blended. 
  • Sales tax exemptions for twine and baling wire. 
  • Expansion of the Livestock Modernization program to allow for smaller projects.  
  • Expansion of the L1/L2 program of the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act.  
  • Creation of the Hydrogen Nuclear Working Group. 
  • A $250,000 annual grant to support the Hydrogen Hub Working Group. 
  • Beginning Farmer Program eligibility expansion by increasing net worth cap to $750,000. 
  • Increased budget for Nebraska State Patrol to assist in background checks which will help with childcare worker recruitment efforts. 
  • Extension of the County Bridge Match Program. 
  • $300,000 allocation to the AgrAbility program to support disabled farmers and ranchers. 

This was a successful legislative session. Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, and all that call rural Nebraska home, are in a better position because of the support you give the Nebraska Farm Bureau. We are honored to go to work for you and on your behalf every day at the Capitol.  

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