For the Week Ending June 3, 2011
Washington, June 3, 2011 -
USDA FUNDING BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday approved by voice vote the fiscal 2012 agriculture funding bill. The measure, which funds the programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies, includes money for USDA’s animal traceability program. NPPC supports a comprehensive program to indentify, control and eradicate animal diseases. The spending bill also includes language to deny funds for USDA to implement its proposed GIPSA rule and for FDA to restrict the use of animal health products without first offering scientific proof that there is harm to public health. (See below.)
LANGUAGE DENIES USDA FUNDS TO IMPLEMENT FINAL GIPSA RULE
Language included in the fiscal 2012 agriculture spending bill would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture fromwriting, preparing, developing or publishing an interim final or final regulation on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry, known as the GIPSA rule. The House Appropriations Committee this week approved by voice vote the bill, which funds programs of USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies. During committee consideration of the legislation, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, offered then withdrew an amendment to strip the GIPSA rule language, which denies USDA funds to implement the proposed regulation. The American Farm Bureau Federation provided Kaptur with a letter of support for her amendment, stating that “there are several provisions in this (GIPSA) rule that we strongly support, while others give us pause.” NPPC strongly opposes the proposed GIPSA rule and welcomed the “defund” language in the agriculture appropriations measure, which now goes to the full House for a vote. That body is set to consider the spending bill the week of June 13. Last week, a bipartisan group of 147 House lawmakers asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw the proposed GIPSA rule and to have USDA propose a regulation “more consistent with the intent of Congress outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill.” That legislation authorized the agency to promulgate regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address five specific areas related to livestock and poultry contracts. The lawmakers also asked that revisions to the proposed rule and an economic analysis of the regulation be open for public comment “before a final or interim final rule is published.” Vilsack refused the House members’ requests. NPPC is urging House lawmakers to reject efforts to strip the defund language from the agriculture appropriations bill.
AMENDMENT REQUIRES USE OF SCIENCE BEFORE RESTRICTING ANIMAL HEALTH PRODUCTS
An amendment to the fiscal 2012 agriculture appropriations bill, which the House Appropriations Committee approved this week, would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use “hard science,” including risk assessments, before restricting the use of animal health products. FDA could not use funds to “write, prepare, develop or publish a proposed, interim, or final rule, regulation, or guidance that is intended to restrict the use of a substance or a compound unless the Secretary bases such a rule, regulation or guidance on hard science (and not on such factors as cost and consumer behavior), and determines that the weight of toxicological evidence, epidemiological evidence, and risk assessments clearly justifies such action.” FDA has proposed guidance that suggests that food-animal producers reduce the use of certain animal health products. The agency said the guidance would be used to develop public policy on animal antibiotic use. When it was proposed last June, NPPC warned that the guidance could lead to the elimination or costly review of previously approved animal health products. The organization also said there appeared to be no science on which FDA based the guidance. NPPC repeatedly has pointed out that numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments show that the risk to public health from animal uses of antibiotics is negligible. The full House is expected to take up the agriculture appropriations bill the week of June 13.
EPA READIES RESPONSE ON MISSISSIPPI NUTRIENT PETITION
Facing the threat of a lawsuit from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to respond by the end of June to a nearly 3-year-old petition seeking limits for nutrients going into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, restrictions that critics warn will force widespread adoption of costly and ineffective controls. Environmental groups in 2008 petitioned EPA to set strict numeric criteria for preventing water-quality impairments to, as well as to establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients for, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. EPA has avoided setting numeric water limits and instead urged states to set their own. The petition states that EPA’s inaction violates the Clean Water Act (CWA) and triggers the need for a federal standard. NPPC is part of a lawsuit against EPA over the agency’s proposed TMDLs for the Chesapeake Bay, and the organization has been involved in talks with EPA’s regional offices about nutrient restrictions. It’s likely that NPPC’s recent U.S. appellate court victory related to CWA permits for concentrated animal feeding operations will affect EPA’s ability to regulate livestock and poultry operations in any of the country’s watersheds.
NPPC MEETS WITH MALAYSIAN, VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS ON U.S. PORK RESTRICTIONS
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano met this week with officials from the embassies of Vietnam and Malaysia to discuss restrictions on pork imports. Malaysia currently maintains a list of pork products that are allowed to be imported. With recent additions to the list, the Malaysian government has almost completely banned U.S. pork for their market. In addition, it limits pork imports by refusing to issue import permits with no clear explanation. Vietnam’s continued ban on most pork variety meats and a number of sanitary barriers have dramatically reduced U.S. pork sales to that southeast Asian country. Both countries are participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. Through the TPP, NPPC is working to eliminate all restrictions imposed by Malaysia and Vietnam and is seeking assurance from the countries that they will abide by science-based rules. Completion of the TPP will create and expand market access for U.S. pork products. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who recently visited Malaysia and Vietnam, calculates that the removal of the barriers will result in significant U.S. pork sales to both countries.
WORLD PORK EXPO JUNE 8-10
NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo begins next Wednesday at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. Attending Expo will be the South Korean ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-soo, who will discuss the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement at a luncheon. For more information about and media registration for the world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition, click here.