Success Story
Agribusiness Standards

MDCP ASABE Industry Experts Educate on Fair International Standards

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), encourage U.S. feed industry to participate in the development of international standards.

The U.S. federal government does not promulgate standards. Industry organizations generally do this. It is common in the U.S. standards development process for private companies to provide most or all of the technical expertise. Experts generally come from firms engaged in making the products that are subject to the standards in question.

This process is familiar to many leading U.S. firms in an industry. The standards that emerge are usually what are used in North America, and may also be adopted by some other countries. But if there is an international standard available as an alternative, countries that have little capacity to manage their own industry standards regime are likely to adopt it, as are may who do have their own standards codes.

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) is in the process of formulating standards for feed processing equipment. ASABE and its partner the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) are focused on engaging the best experts from U.S. industry to participate in ISO meetings to draft standards.

ISO Standards Favorable to Chinese Manufacturers?

China holds the secretariat for the eleven-nation participants in the technical committee (TC293) drafting ISO feed equipment standards. In a November 23, 2015, article in Feedstuffs, AFIA’s Gary Huddleston expressed concern that the initiative by China to draft ISO feed equipment standards “may be an attempt to set standards that are favorable to only Chinese firms, which AFIA believes is not at all the purpose of ISO.”

As further noted in the Feedstuffs article, “ISO procedures for consensus are based on a one country, one vote model. Still, it is not unheard of to have the system circumvented through the extension of representation in as many countries as possible in order to gain votes.”

At the time, TC293 had only eight participant countries. Several international delegates at the first meeting of TC293 were self identified as representatives from one Chinese company’s offices and production facilities outside of China acting as delegates from other participating countries. At the time, the United States was not a TC293 participant. The prospect of getting U.S. private firms to send a technical expert was a tough sell. Who who cover the travel cost? What about loss of productivity while the expert was away discussing standards?

ASABE was able to address those concerns when ITA selected it in 2016, to receive Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) support. As part of the MDCP project the United States is now a TC293 participant and will host some of the meetings in the United States. Two other countries with representatives not affiliated with the Chinese firm have also joined the TC293, boosting the number of participants from eight to eleven.

Leveraging the U.S. Field and International Buyer Program

ITA recruited many of the 7,093 international visitors to the show in Atlanta. Eric Johnson, from the Atlanta field office briefed U.S. firms on exporting basics. Pat Sweeney and Renee Hancher, in I&A’s Office of Standards and Investment Policy, lead the ITA team supporting ASABE and AFIA’s efforts to ensure that the ISO standards are industry-developed, market-driven, and science-based. See I&A’s Programs in the Office of Trade Policy & Analysis