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USDA News: Agricultural Goods Tariffs, Food Labeling

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Additional Duties on Agricultural Goods

The Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has issued a notice listing the updated quantity-based trigger levels for products that may be subject to additional import duties under the safeguard provisions of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture. This notice also includes the relevant period applicable for trigger levels on each of the affected products, which include beef, mutton, cheese, dairy products, peanuts and peanut butter, sugar and sugar products, cocoa powder, chocolate crumb, infant formula, mixes and doughs, condiments and seasonings, ice cream, animal feed, and cotton.

Under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, additional import duties may be imposed on imports of products subject to tariffs as a result of the Uruguay Round if the price of an individual shipment of imported products falls below the average price for similar goods imported during the years 1986-1988 by a specified percentage. It also permits additional duties to be imposed if the volume of imports of an article exceeds the sum of (a) a base trigger level multiplied by the average of the last three years of available import data and (b) the change in yearly consumption in the most recent year for which data are available. These additional duties may not be imposed on quantities for which minimum or current access commitments were made during the Uruguay Round negotiations, and only one type of safeguard (price or quantity) may be applied at any given time to an article.

“Healthy” Claims on Food Labels

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service states that it will continue to allow the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” on the labels of foods that (1) have a fat profile of predominantly mono and polyunsaturated fats but do not meet the regulatory definition of “low fat” or (2) contain at least ten percent of the daily value per reference amount customarily consumed of potassium or vitamin D. FSIS states that this policy, which will continue until its regulations on “healthy” claims are amended through rulemaking, allows the same uses of the claim “healthy” for meat and poultry products as are currently allowed for food products under the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction. Nevertheless, comments are being accepted through May 18.

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