For The Week Ending July 20, 2012
ANIMAL-RIGHTS GROUPS CONTINUE TRUTH-TWISTING CAMPAIGN AGAINST HOG FARMERS
In their latest attempt to end the use of gestation stalls in pork production, animal-rights groups this week released an undercover video of a Minnesota hog farm, alleging abuse of animals. A panel of animal scientists reviewed the video and found no abuse. Groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, which has a goal of ending food-animal production, repeatedly have used videos, including this week’s, in an attempt to link alleged abuse to the use of gestation stalls for sows. Such housing systems, which allow hog farmers to provide the best care to sows, have nothing to do with abuse. In a statement released Wednesday, NPPC said animal-rights groups “repeatedly have grossly misrepresented what is shown in such videos and not told the truth about how farmers raise and care for their animals.” The animal-rights groups also have used videos to coerce food companies into demanding their pork suppliers to abandon gestation stalls.
NEW STUDY SUPPORTS NEED TO REFORM ETHANOL PRODUCTION MANDATE
In response to a new economic study on the impact of corn ethanol production on food prices and commodity price volatility, a coalition of livestock and poultry groups Thursday urged Congress to reform the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which mandates the amount of ethanol that must be produced annually. The study, conducted by Thomas Elam, Ph.D., president of FarmEcon LLC, found that federal ethanol policy has increased and destabilized corn, soybean and wheat prices to the detriment of food and fuel producers and consumers. Elam briefed Senate and House staff on his study Thursday. The RFS, first imposed in 2005 and revised in 2007, this year requires 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be produced. Most of that amount is blended into gasoline at 10 percent. NPPC, along with the coalition supports legislation – the “Renewable Fuels Standard Flexibility Act” (H.R. 3097), sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jim Costa, D-Calif. – that would require a biannual review of ending corn stocks relative to their total use to serve as a temporary “safety valve” for livestock producers. If the ratio falls below 10 percent, the RFS could be temporarily reduced by 10 percent. If it falls below 7.5 percent, the mandate could shrink by 15 percent; below 6 percent, it could be temporarily reduced by 25 percent; and if the ratio falls below 5 percent, the ethanol mandate could be temporarily cut by 50 percent. Click here to read the full study. Click here to view an infographic summarizing the study’s findings. Click here to read more.
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE PASSES RUSSIA PNTR
The Senate Finance Committee this week passed legislation authorizing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and ending the application of the Jackson-Vanik law. Russia is expected to formally join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August, compelling Congress to vote on extending PNTR status to Russia and on repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which affects U.S. trade with countries that restrict freedom of emigration and those with poor human rights records. The Russia PNTR bill requires the Obama administration to report on a number of trade issues, including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers against U.S. agricultural products. The U.S. pork industry has concerns about a number of matters related to Russia’s WTO accession, primarily related to non-science-based trade barriers that have negatively affected U.S. pork exports to Russia. Those concerns were raised by Sen. Grassley, R-Iowa, who encouraged the administration to get assurances on standards for pathogens and antibiotics, mentioning salmonella and tetracycline, respectively. Grassley spoke in favor of an agreement to obtain firm commitments from Russia on outstanding SPS issues and guarantees to uphold science-based international standards for trade in agricultural products.
NPPC MEETS WITH COLOMBIAN PRODUCERS, ATTENDS LATIN AMERICAN PORK CONGRESS
NPPC board members and pork producers Gary Asay and Larry Liepold traveled with Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano this week to Colombia to meet with Colombian pork producers and government officials to discuss cooperation with the Colombian pork industry. NPPC has been working with the Asociación Colombiana de Porcicultores (the Colombian Pork Producers Association) to expand the market for U.S. pork in Colombia and to provide technical support for industry modernization. U.S. pork exports are expected to increase significantly because of the recently implemented U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Increased domestic consumption of pork and modernization of the domestic industry will benefit Colombian and U.S. producers and diminish the likelihood of conflict. Prior to implementation of the FTA, NPPC worked closely with U.S. and Colombian officials to remove unscientific and burdensome trichinae mitigation measures that Colombia required the U.S. pork industry to meet. The removal of those restrictions and the ability to ship fresh/chilled pork will boost exports. NPPC also attended the Latin American Pork Congress in Pereira, Colombia, where many issues of interest to pork producers were discussed.
NPPC VETERINARIAN SPEAKS AT AGRICULTURE STAKEHOLDER CONFERENCE
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom Tuesday spoke at the 2012 Agriculture Stakeholder Conference, hosted by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Wagstrom participated in a panel discussion on plant pest and foreign animal disease exclusion, agriculture stewardship and leveraging resources. The meeting drew members from the livestock industry as well as from USDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Plant Protection and Quarantine, APHIS and others. Breakout sessions were also conducted for detailed conversations about plant pests, foreign animal disease and trade/industry. NPPC and the National Pork Board participated in the foreign animal disease dialogue. Results of the meeting included: advancing relations, maximizing efficiency and improving protection against plant pests and foreign animal diseases.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO HOLD EGG BILL HEARING
The Senate Agriculture Committee next Thursday will hold a Hearing on S. 3239 the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012.”
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO HOLD FINANCIAL HEARING
The House Agriculture Committee next Wednesday will hold a public hearing on financial market instruments titled “Oversight of the Swaps and Futures Markets: Recent Events and Impending Regulatory Reforms.”
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