National Update

NAFTA Renegotiation

On May 18, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of the Trump Administration’s plans to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. With the delivery of the required formal notice to Congress, the Trump administration has officially taken the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. “The American Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of U.S. farmers and ranchers,” said Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau. The 2015 Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives farmers, ranchers, the agriculture community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and share their significant expertise with U.S. negotiators.


Regulatory Accountability Act

S. 951, the Regulatory Accountability Act was approved May 17 by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. American Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors has designated regulatory reform as a strategic priority. S. 951 will make fundamental reforms in the Administrative Procedure Act and aligns with AFBF policy on the promotion of sound science, use of cost/benefit considerations, transparency in the use of economic data and mandating a 60-day comment period for stakeholders. Farm Bureau will continue working to build support for the measure in the Senate.


Sales Tax Bills

U.S. House and U.S. Senate legislation intended to promote fair competition between local and main street retailers and Internet-only sellers has the backing of American Farm Bureau. The Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2193, S. 976) would allow states to apply sales tax laws uniformly. Currently, a legal loophole allows some online retailers to avoid collecting the sales tax due during a transaction. While consumers are still liable for paying what’s owed, few do, which gives online stores a strong advantage over their main street competitors.


Water Infrastructure Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program received an additional $8 million for credit subsidy in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump May 5. This additional funding, combined with the $17 million appropriated for credit subsidy in December 2016, will allow the WIFIA program to lend approximately $1.5 billion for water infrastructure projects—a key component of the President’s infrastructure agenda. In response to the Notice of Funding Availability issued on January 10, EPA received 43 letters of interest for WIFIA loans from public and private entities with a collective request of $6 billion in WIFIA loans. These letters demonstrate the high need to invest in water infrastructure improvements in communities across the nation and the value that WIFIA financing can offer.

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North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company

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American Farm Bureau Federation