For the Week Ending February 4, 2011
Washington, February 4, 2011 -
NPPC ASKS FOR RELEASE OF CRP ACRES TO COPE WITH TIGHTENING GRAIN SUPPLIES
Citing the growing possibility of feed-grain shortages that could jeopardize animal care, NPPC this week urged the Secretary of Agriculture to release early and without penalty non-environmentally sensitive farm acres currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) so that they may be put into crop production. In a letter sent Monday to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack, NPPC also asked the agency to take “all other possible steps to open tight grain markets and provide access to USDA emergency programs to ensure that U.S. pork producers can feed the animals in their care.” The organization pointed out that while last year’s corn crop was among the four largest ever recorded, USDA is projecting carryover supplies of corn for approximately 20 days and of soybeans for only 13 days. “Both are historic lows and will cause unprecedented levels of risk, prompt speculation in the marketplace and increase the likelihood of localized corn shortages,” NPPC said in its letter. “The result will be, in addition to extreme price volatility, an economic environment in which U.S. pork producers may simply be unable to procure the grain necessary to feed the animals in their care.” NPPC is concerned that many producers may be hard-pressed to find feed grains at any price and that the recent rapid rise in feed prices may cause a repeat of the long-term losses producers suffered a couple of years ago. From September 2007 to March 2010, U.S. pork producers lost an average of nearly $24 on each hog marketed mostly because of U.S. biofuels policy and grain crises in other parts of the world. And while producers returned to profitability in 2010, averaging $10.25 a hog, January’s forecast for 2011 shows profits shrinking to less than $5 a head, a drop driven entirely by pressures on feed availability and costs. The tightening grain supplies likely will expose many U.S. pork producers to the risk of sustained losses this year, NPPC said, jeopardizing their ability to continue producing U.S. pork and costing many rural on- and off-farm jobs. In addition to requesting release of CRP acres, NPPC asked USDA to “support and defend U.S. pork exports” through agency programs such as the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. It also urged the Secretary to reconstitute its sub-cabinet, the Inter-departmental Livestock Task Force to examine current market challenges facing the U.S. pork and livestock industries and to review potential policy options and recommendations.
USDA ANNOUNCES DIETARY GUIDELINES
NPPC expressed modest support for federal dietary guidelines released Monday whose goals are to reduce obesity, encourage the consumption of nutrient-rich foods and increase physical activity. Many cuts of pork, the organization pointed out, are lean, nutrient-dense sources of protein. NPPC recognizes for food policy and nutrition guidance the importance of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which were issued by the U.S. departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). Lean pork offers nutrients that often are lacking in Americans, including heme iron, potassium and vitamin B-12, a micronutrient not found in plant-based foods. Based on current consumption data from the HHS National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans on an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet consume 5.3 ounces of meat or meat equivalents. The USDA “Food Pyramid” suggests two to three servings of 2- to 3-ounce portions of meat, poultry or fish, meaning from 4 to 9 ounces a day. To view the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines, click the following link: USDA Dietary Guidelines.
HOUSE AG COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON STATE OF AGRICULTURE
The House Agriculture Committee Feb. 17 will hold a hearing on the state of American agriculture. USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack is expected to testify. NPPC is asking its members to contact their representatives to urge them to raise with the secretary concerns about his agency’s proposed regulation – known as the GIPSA rule – on the buying and selling of livestock. NPPC believes the rule would limit farmers’ ability to sell animals, dictate the terms of private contracts, make it harder to get farm financing, raise consumer prices and reduce choices, stifle industry innovation and lead to more vertical integration of the pork industry. An economic analysis of the regulation NPPC and other groups commissioned found it would result in job losses of nearly 23,000, with an annual drop in gross domestic product by as much as $1.56 billion and an annual loss in tax revenues of $359 million – 46 percent of which would be at the state and local levels. The study also found that the rule would result in “ongoing and indirect” costs to the livestock and poultry industries – eventually borne by producers and consumers – of more than $1.64 billion, including more than $401 million to the pork industry.
HOUSE TO COMPILE JOB-DESTROYING REGULATIONS FOR REVIEW
The House next Thursday is expected to take up a resolution that calls on the White House to review a list of job-destroying regulations, which the chamber’s various committees will compile. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in response to President Obama’s recent Executive Order calling on federal agencies to review existing regulations, ordered all House committees to recommend regulations under their jurisdiction for increased scrutiny by the administration.
HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON TRADE AGREEMENTS
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing next week on President Obama’s trade policy agenda, focusing on pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and on issues impeding American companies from selling U.S. goods and services in China.
NPPC TO HOST EDUCATIONAL TRADE BRIEFING FOR CONGRESSIONAL STAFF
NPPC will host a briefing Tuesday for congressional staff to educate them about the potential export opportunities for U.S. pork and other U.S. food and agriculture products to Colombia, Panama and South Korea. NPPC will also discuss the risk to US agriculture products should the current Mexican trucking issue go unresolved.
NPPC, NATIONAL PORK BOARD ANNUAL FORUM MARCH 3-5
NPPC and the National Pork Board will hold their 2011 annual meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – March 3-5 in Phoenix, Ariz. You can follow the action from Forum on NPPC on Twitter. For more information on the meeting, call (515) 278-8012. Media inquiries should be directed to Dave Warner at (202) 347-3600; for media registration, visit 2011 National Pork Forum.