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Oil Spill Rules Bad; Trade Agreements Good

TAGS: Soybeans
Oil Spill Rules Bad; Trade Agreements Good
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has some praise and criticism for Washington, D.C., bureaucrats and lawmakers.

Doug Goehring, North Dakota agriculture commissioner, says EPA should "rethink" its fuel storage rules.

An extension for farms and ranches that started operations after Aug 2002 to meet the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure regulations is welcome, but does not address core problems with the rules, he says.

SPCC requires operations storing less than 10,000 gallons of fuel and other petroleum productions to have approved plans in place in case of spillage of these fluids. Farms storing more than 10,000 gallons must have an engineer certify the plan and containment structure. The deadline was Oct. 31, but EPA extended it until May 10, 2013 farms and ranches started operations after 2002. Farms and ranches that were started before 2002 are still required to have spill containment systems and countermeasures in place now.

"Given the widespread adversity felt in North Dakota this year – producers were scrambling to plant and manage their operations in short order, leaving little opportunity to deal with another set of rules and regulations to adhere to -- I believe all operations should be afforded the extended deadline," Goehring says. 

He also argues that "EPA should immediately take steps to reduce the costs, especially for the required engineering, that SPCC imposes on producers storing larger amounts of fuel."

Free trade

Geohring had praise for the new free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama. North Dakota agriculture will be a big winner, he says.

"Most American products exported to these countries will become duty-free immediately on implementation of the agreements," Goehring says. "This translates into increased export opportunities for North Dakota agricultural products, such as wheat, soybeans and pulse crops."

North Dakota exports to Colombia and South Korea are estimated to reach $11 million and $12 million, respectively. The agreement with Panama lifts tariffs on 87% of U.S. goods to that country.

"South Korea now has a $250-per-ton markup on soybean imports and a 40% tariff on beef imports," Goehring says. "Panama has an average tariff of 15% on agricultural imports, but that figure can reach as high as 260%." 

Colombia's complex tariff system can imposes levies as high as 248% on wheat and barley, 150% on soybeans, 194% on some corn products and 60% on dry peas, beans and lentils.

"Obviously, the removal of these tariffs and duties will go far in leveling the playing field for our farm exports to these countries," Goehring says. "The benefits to American agriculture could be incalculable." 

Companies interested in learning more about exporting to Colombia, Panama and South Korea or want to know about upcoming trade activities in these countries should contact the Fargo office of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701-239-7211.

Source: ND Department of Agriculture

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