For the Week Ending Feb. 3, 2012
Contact: Dave Warner 202-347-3600
Washington, February 3, 2012 -
LABOR DEPARTMENT RE-PROPOSES CHILD FARM LABOR LAW
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division Wednesday announced plans to re-propose the “parental exemption” portion of its rules for child labor in agriculture. Concerns received from agricultural organizations – including NPPC – the public and members of Congress prompted the DOL to withdraw the original set of rules proposed September 2011, prohibiting children under the age of 16 to work in agricultural environments. Until the exemption is final, parental exemption will apply to situations in which the parent or person standing in the friend place of a parent is either a part owner of the farm, a partner in a partnership or an officer of a corporation that owns the farm if the ownership interest in the partnership or corporation is substantial. The DOL is expected to publish the re-proposed rule for public comment by early summer. To read NPPC’s comments for the original rule, click here.
HOUSE HOLDS CHILD FARM LABOR PROPOSAL HEARING
One day after the Department of Labor’s (DOL) announcement to re-propose the child farm labor rule, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade Thursday held a hearing on “The Future of the Family Farm: The Effect of Proposed DOL Regulations on Small Business Producers.” Committee Chairman Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said the provisions not re-proposed will make it nearly impossible for youth pursuing agricultural careers to gain access to ample on-farm instruction and employment opportunities. A fifth-generation rancher, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., delivered a personal account of the safety precautions taken and daily activities performed on a farm. He urged the DOL to reconsider other provisions of the rule. “As Chairman on Appropriations of Labor, I will have a rider on my appropriations bill that keeps [DOL] from implementing this rule. I know it’ll pass the House, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure it passes the Senate,” Rehberg told a DOL witness. To watch Rep. Rehberg’s questioning, click here. The hearing also featured testimony from Missouri hog farmer Chris Chinn on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation. To read testimonies, click here.
NPPC DISCUSSES PORK TRADE RESTRICTIONS WITH THAI OFFICIALS
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano, met in Bangkok, Thailand, this week with Thai and U.S. officials to discuss the Thai import policies on pork. Thailand maintains a ban on the importation of pork produced using ractopamine even though the feed additive has been declared safe and approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the equivalent agencies of 26 other countries. Thailand’s policy against ractopamine has no scientific foundations. U.S. pork exports to Thailand are further limited by the reluctance of the Thai Department of Livestock and Development to grant import licenses for uncooked U.S. pork – a policy that has never been explained by the Thai government. Furthermore, in the rare cases where import permits are granted, Thailand imposes an inspection fee of five Baht per kilogram, amounting to about $162 per metric ton, yet assesses an inspection fee of only $15 on domestic pork. This inspection fee is in direct violation of World Trade Organization rules, which require inspection fees to reflect the true cost of inspection. NPPC is working to remove each of these restrictions in an effort to increase U.S. pork exports to Thailand.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON U.S.-EU PORK TRADE BARRIERS
NPPC this week submitted comments in response to a Federal Register notice requesting input on barriers to trade with the European Union (EU). The comments support a comprehensive U.S.-EU free trade agreement (FTA), which is expected to be considered at an upcoming meeting of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth. NPPC stated it would support such a U.S.-EU agreement as long as the United States clearly articulates that it is determined to negotiate and implement a high-standard, 21st century agreement. NPPC’s support of a U.S.-EU FTA is contingent on the inclusion of agriculture as well as on negotiations addressing and eliminating EU regulatory and sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) barriers to trade in a systematic way. The EU represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports, with EU pork consumption totaling 20 million metric tons (MT) annually, making it the second largest market in the world for pork consumption. However, current EU tariff rate quotas (TRQs) amount to less than 1 percent of EU consumption and far less than the standard for minimum access of 5 percent set in the Uruguay Round. Additionally, the EU maintains numerous non-science-based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers on the importation of U.S. pork, including a ban on ractopamine, mandatory trichinae testing, prohibition on pathogen reduction treatments and a costly plant approval system. NPPC supports the expansion of current EU pork TRQs and elimination of SPS barriers through WTO multilateral negotiations or through U.S.-EU FTA negotiations.
SECOND MF GLOBAL HEARING HELD
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Thursday held a hearing on “The Collapse of MF Global: Part 2.” The hearing covered how MF Global handled risk, how the risk was made known to investors and customers and how credit rating agencies assessed the risk. Michael Roseman, former MF Global chief risk officer, testified that MF Global’s positions in the debt of troubled European sovereigns rose from less than $500 million in March 2010 to nearly $2 billion by September 2010. In October, the amount doubled to $4 billion. Roseman claimed to communicate his apprehension of the likely capital risk connected to the growing position and the rising liquidity risk. Roseman said Jon Corzine, former MF Global CEO, rejected his scenarios as being improbable, and Roseman was replaced by Michael Stockman in January 2011. Prior to MF Global’s collapse in October, executives organized a so-called “Break the Glass” plan to deal with a potential liquidity crunch because of a credit reduction and growing collateral calls on its European sovereign positions. Stockman claimed he was not involved in the planning and did not see the final version of the “Break the Glass” plan. Clickhere to watch the hearing.
STABENOW ANNOUNCES FOUR FARM BILL HEARINGS
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced four Farm Bill hearings scheduled for February and March. The first hearing, titled “Energy and Economic Growth for Rural America,” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15; the second, titled “Strengthening Conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill,” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 29. Two hearings titled “Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production and Nutrition” and “Risk Management and Commodities in the 2012 Farm Bill” will be held in March.
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS DODD-FRANK ACT HEARING
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Wednesday will hold a hearing on the Dodd-Frank Act.