For the Week Ending January 14, 2011

Washington, D.C., January 14, 2011 -

NPPC EXTOLS BENEFITS OF U.S.-SOUTH KOREA FTA

NPPC and Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes met this week with congressional staff to promote the enormous benefits the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement will create for the U.S. pork industry. Hayes pointed out that the United States never before has had duty-free access to such a rich and densely populated country and that, because of that access to South Korea, the U.S. pork industry expects to increase pork exports by $687 million per year, creating more than 9,000 direct U.S. pork industry jobs and raising live U.S. hog prices by $10. NPPC this week also hosted South Korean embassy officials at a meeting of more than 20 food and agriculture associations to discuss the U.S.-South Korea FTA. Officials from the South Korean embassy included Deputy Chief of Mission Jong-hyun Choi, Agricultural Minister Kyeong-kyu Kim and First Secretary of Economic Affairs Jong-han Park.
CHINA HOLDS LARGEST GROWTH POTENTIAL FOR U.S. PORK EXPORTS

In a series of presentations this week on behalf of NPPC, Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes discussed food price inflation and China’s challenges in producing food for its large and increasingly affluent population. Presenting to agriculture associations, policy institutes, congressional staffers and Administration officials, Hayes drove home the point that the Chinese market holds the largest growth potential for U.S. pork exports. China is currently over 98 percent self sufficient in pork production. If China increased U.S. pork imports as a percent of consumption by just 1 percent, the U.S. pork industry would increase sales by $1 billion and would create more than 27,000 U.S. jobs.
PROGRESS ON MEXICAN TRUCKING DISPUTE MOVING FORWARD

NPPC welcomed news last week from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on progress in the U.S.-Mexico dispute on long-haul trucking. Mexico announced in August 2010 that it would hit U.S. pork exports with a retaliatory import duty in response to failure by the United States to abide by its commitments made to Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). From August to October, U.S. pork exports to Mexico were down 17 percent compared with August to October 2009 exports. At issue is the U.S. refusal to allow Mexican trucks free access into the United States, as called for under NAFTA, as well as a 2001 NAFTA dispute settlement ruling. NPPC is hopeful that a “concept paper” released by DOT on a phase-in of Mexican trucking into the U.S. will open the door to quick progress and resolution of the dispute. The U.S. shipped $762 million in pork products to Mexico in 2009. Since 1993, the year before NAFTA was implemented, U.S. pork exports to Mexico have increased by 580 percent.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE RESTRUCTURED FOR THE 112TH CONGRESS 

The House Agriculture Committee saw restructuring of its leadership as Republicans took over the majority from Democrats in last November’s elections. Chairing the committee will be Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., while former Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will serve as the Ranking member. Chairman Lucas named Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the full committee and appointed the following Republicans to serve as subcommittee chairmen: Glenn Thompson, Pa., Conservation, Energy, and Forestry; Jeff Fortenberry, Neb., Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit; Michael Conaway, Texas, General Farm Commodities and Risk Management; Tom Rooney, Fla., Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry; Jean Schmidt, Ohio, Nutrition and Horticulture; and Timothy Johnson, Ill., Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture.
USDA ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL MEALS 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served at schools across the country as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was signed into law by President Obama Dec. 13, 2010. The proposed changes to school meal standards would include adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free and low-fat milk to school meals. NPPC, which filed comments with USDA on the proposed rule, supported extension of the law when it was before Congress but raised concerns about efforts to restrict meat in the breakfast and lunch programs. USDA is encouraging input on the proposed rule from now until April 13, 2011.

EPA RELEASES DATA FROM FARM AIR EMISSIONS STUDY

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday released the raw data from a two-year study of air emissions from livestock and poultry farms. The study was part of an air consent agreement that livestock and poultry operations entered with EPA in 2005. The agreement, which NPPC helped negotiate, protected animal feeding operations from EPA enforcement actions for past air emissions violations, as well as for violations that might have occurred while the agency conducted the monitoring study. Data from the study will be used to set scientifically sound and economically sustainable emissions standards for farms. Late last year, NPPC helped organize a joint EPA-USDA workshop to discuss methodologies for estimating air emissions from farms.

EPA DELAYS DECISION ON MANAGING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it would delay for three years a decision on whether biomass power plants require permits under its new system for managing greenhouse gas emissions. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson acknowledged that scientific doubts remain over the extent to which biomass power plants lead to net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and plans to investigate the issue.


JOHN TAYLOR III NAMED ACTING FDA DEPUTY 

U.S. Food & Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg named her top lawyer, John Taylor III, temporary replacement for outgoing Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. Previous to his appointment, Taylor served as a lobbyist working on regulatory issues for Abbott Laboratories and also as associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA. Sharfstein, Baltimore’s former top public health official, is expected to be named secretary of health and mental hygiene for Maryland.

ANNUAL NPPC ANIMAL HEALTH COMMITTEE MEETING HELD

NPPC this week held its 2011 Animal Health and Food Security Policy Committee meeting in Arlington, Va. Topics ranging from U.S. food safety policy, antibiotic use and the 2010 mid-term elections kept the two-day meeting lively with discussions. Guest speakers included the National Pork Board’s Dr. Sherrie Niekamp, director of swine welfare, Dr. Ken Petersen, assistant administrator for the office of field operations with USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service and FDA’s Bernadette Dunham, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine.


WHAT’S AHEAD


HOUSE SET TO VOTE ON HEALTHCARE REPEAL

The House next week is expected to vote on legislation that would repeal President Obama’s landmark healthcare bill that was signed into law during the 111th session of Congress.

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