For The Week Ending May 11, 2012
NPPC, FARM GROUPS FILES LEGAL MOTIONS IN MISSISSIPPI RIVER BASIN CASE
NPPC, together with six state pork associations as well as other national agricultural groups, Tuesday filed a legal motion to intervene as parties in litigation related to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water-quality standards. In the lawsuit, Gulf Restoration Network, et al. vs. Jackson, environmental groups Waterkeeper, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council demand the court order EPA to accept a petition to develop federal nutrient water-quality criteria for the 31 states whose waters flow into the Mississippi River Basin and to set a watershed-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nutrients. EPA’s TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay was the product of similar litigation by many of the same groups, has been roundly criticized because it has no scientific foundation and singles out the region’s agriculture producers. NPPC strongly opposes these additional federal regulatory burdens and will continue its legal actions to defend U.S. pork producers.
NEW ZEALAND TO ALLOW CONSUMER-READY UNCOOKED PORK IMPORTS FROM U.S.
New Zealand’s High Court has issued its decision in favor of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to its Import Health Standard (IHS) for pig meat, products and by-products from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), including the United States. The IHS would allow the importation of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork less than three kilograms. However, it is likely that the New Zealand pork industry will appeal the decision by the June 1, 2012, deadline. Because of this uncertainty, U.S. exporters have been advised to delay any exports of the new category of eligible product until the results of any appeal process are concluded. Read the MPI press release here. Thanks to the work of experts nominated by NPPC to the New Zealand Independent Working Group and the New Zealand PRRS Expert Working Group, scientific evidence was used to illustrate a lack of risk from the virus based on a very conservative risk assessment model. Based on that model, New Zealand’s chances of getting PRRS from legally imported uncooked pork product are 1-in-1,227 years. New Zealand has reported the virus that causes PRRS but claims it does not have the PRRS virus. The country’s draft IHS originally was issued in November 2007, but because of the New Zealand pork industry’s strong political opposition, the process was stalled for several years while the expert groups convened. NPPC applauds the decision by the High Court, but there is more work to be done. NPPC will continue to advocate for full and open access for U.S. pork and pork products into New Zealand and any country that erects unscientific barriers to trade for U.S. pork producers.
DOMINO’S HANDS HSUS FIRST SHAREHOLDER LOSS
Domino’s Pizza shareholders April 25 rejected – by a majority vote of 80 percent – a resolution from the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) requiring its pork suppliers to stop the use of gestation stalls. The National Pork Producers Council hailed the move as a vote for common sense. Animal activist groups recently have intimidated several prominent foodservice companies, including Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, and major retailer Safeway to make poorly informed decisions regarding on-farm sow housing. These decisions are seemingly simple for food companies; however, they present U.S. pork producers with very difficult and costly financial management decisions that may have a huge impact on the future viability of the 67,000 U.S. pork farms across the country.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEES CONTINUE FARM BILL HEARINGS
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit Thursday held a public hearing on credit programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. Witnesses testified about the importance of having access to credit when starting and for maintaining an operation because of the risks involved in agriculture. The witness panel consisted of rural and urban farmers as well as representatives from the Farm Credit System and commercial lenders, who explained the vital function they play in fostering economic prosperity in rural parts of the nation. To read testimony, click here. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture Tuesday held a public hearing on specialty crop and nutrition programs in the Farm Bill.
FARM BILL HEARINGS CONTINUE IN THE HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management next Wednesday and Thursday will hold public hearings regarding commodity programs and crop insurance for the 2012 Farm Bill. Also, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Friday will hold a public hearing regarding energy and forestry programs for the 2012 Farm Bill.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER SWAPS BILLS
The House Agriculture Committee next Thursday will hold a business meeting to consider H.R. 4235, the “Swap Data Repository & Clearinghouse Indemnification Correction Act of 2012”; H.R. 1838, the “Swaps Bailout Prevention Act”; and H.R. 3283, the “Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act.”