About 10 days ago – a handful of Senators requested a Senate Finance Committee hearing with U.S. trade negotiators so they could better understand efforts with European Union officials. They noted ag trade has been a difficult subject with the EU – and expressed a desire to ensure agriculture is a priority in any trade discussions between the EU and U.S. Just this week – the EU dropped its ban on live pigs and beef washed in lactic acid. The move is reportedly meant to show the Europeans are serious about a free trade deal with the U.S. According to a senior EU diplomat involved in negotiation preparations – the U.S. had certain preconditions for starting talks and the EU wanted to show they could deliver. A spokeswoman for the U.S. said the U.S. was pleased with the move – but did not signal this was enough to clear the way for trade talks to begin. The USTR spokeswoman said these measures – effective February 25th – will help increase exports of U.S. beef and live swine to European customers.