For The Week Ending Aug. 3, 2012
LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY COALITION SEEKS WAIVER TO PROTECT FARMERS
With drought conditions in most of the Corn Belt their worst in more than 50 years and corn yields expected to drop significantly, NPPC joined a coalition of meat and poultry organizations this week in asking the U.S. Environmental Protection agency to waive the federal mandate for the production of corn ethanol. In a petition delivered to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the coalition asked for a waiver “in whole or in substantial part” of the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for the remainder of this year and for the portion of 2013 that is one year from the time the waiver becomes effective. The RFS has “directly affected the supply and cost of feed in major agricultural sectors of this country, causing the type of economic harm that justifies issuance of an RFS waiver,” said the coalition in its petition. It pointed out that EPA was granted the authority in the 2005 Energy Policy Act and again in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to waive because of severe economic or environmental harm the annual volume of renewable fuel that must be produced. In asking Jackson to take prompt action to provide a measure of relief for livestock and poultry producers, the coalition petition said, “[i]t is abundantly clear that sufficient harm is occurring now and that economic conditions affecting grain supplies and feed prices will worsen in the months ahead. Both conditions provide an independent basis for a waiver of the RFS.” Members of the coalition that signed the petition include the American Sheep Industries Association, California Dairy Campaign, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Milk Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Nevada State Dairy Commission, Northwest Dairy Association, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Southeast Milk Inc., United Dairymen of Arizona, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, North American Meat Association and the Washington State Dairy Federation. Click here to read the petition.
BIPARTISAN GROUP OF LAWMAKERS ASK EPA TO WAIVE CORN-ETHANOL PRODUCTION MANDATE
A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers Thursday urged the U.S. Environmental Protection agency to waive the federal mandate for the production of corn ethanol to help livestock and poultry producers weather the worst drought in more than 50 years. Led by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Steve Womack, R-Ark., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Joe Wilson, Joe Wilson, S.C., and Mike McIntrye, D-N.C., 156 members of the House today asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for the rest of the year to “help ease corn supply concerns and protect American consumers, livestock producers, and the economy.” The members of Congress asked EPA to consider a “fair and meaningful nationwide adjustment” in the RFS. They said prompt action could help ease short corn supply concerns and “literally save jobs across many U.S. industries and keep families fed.”
LIFT RACTOPAMINE BAN ON PORK, NPPC URGES TAIWAN
In a letter sent this week to Obama administration trade officials, NPPC expressed its strong objection to re-opening Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiations with Taiwan because of that country’s continued failure to lift a ban on a widely approved dietary additive used in pork production. The Taiwanese parliament recently voted to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from cattle produced with Ractopamine but left the ban in place on pork produced with the same product. Ractopamine is a dietary additive that improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. It has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 24 countries. Earlier this month, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food products, approved a maximum residue limit (MRL) for Ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. NPPC asked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to make clear to Taiwan that lifting the Ractopamine ban for beef only will not prompt the United States to re-open TIFA talks with Taiwan. TIFA provides a framework for expanding trade and resolving trade disputes between countries. The pork organization also urged the U.S. officials to “up the ante” on Taiwan by indicating that the United States will not support the Asian nation’s entry into negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact, until it drops its Ractopamine ban on pork imports. Just $53.8 million of U.S. pork was shipped to Taiwan in 2011.
NO HOUSE FARM BILL ACTION; LAWMAKERS APPROVE DISASTER AID PACKAGE
The House failed to approve a 2012 Farm Bill before adjourning for its month-long recess, but it did pass a $383 million disaster aid package that mostly gives relief to crop farmers and some livestock producers, namely cattle and sheep, affected by the worst drought in more than 50 years. The drought relief bill passed on a 223-197 vote. The House Agriculture Committee in mid-July approved a five-year Farm Bill; the Senate passed its 2012 Farm Bill in early July. The 2008 Farm Bill set to expire Sept. 30.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED FSIS RESIDUE PROGRAM
NPPC this week submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on proposed new analytic methods and sampling procedures for determining at packing plants residue levels on meat, poultry and eggs. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) wants to make changes in its National Residue Program (NRP). NPPC said the changes raise several questions and concerns and likely will have economic consequences for producers. One change, for example, would allow FSIS to test and hold an entire lot of animals or flock of poultry, which could adversely affect plant cooler space and efficiency. Click here to read NPPC’s comments.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON FINANCIAL MARKET REFORMS
The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday held a hearing – “Examining the Futures Markets: Responding to the Failures of MF Global and Peregrine Financial Group” – on financial market reforms. The committee resumed its examination into the collapse of financial firm MF Global as well as the recent collapse of Peregrine Financial Group. The committee also examined how customer safeguards can be fortified to avoid future mishandling of customer funds in the futures markets. Witnesses included: Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Jill Sommers, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; James Giddens, trustee for the liquidation of MF Global Inc.; and Ira Bodenstein, the bankruptcy trustee for Peregrine Financial Group Inc. Click here to watch the hearing and read testimony.
MALAYSIAN MARKET CLOSED TO U.S. PORK EXPORTS
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last week designated the Malaysian market as closed to U.S. exports of pork and pork products because of Malaysia’s imposition of addition sanitary and technical barriers. The USDA Export Library indicates that processed pork products are eligible. Despite the FSIS designation of raw, unprocessed pork as ineligible for export to Malaysia, there has been a de facto ban on U.S. pork and pork products since 2011. The de facto ban is the result of a list maintained by Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) of pork products allowed entry into the country and costly and burdensome individual plant registration and inspection requirements. NPPC has successfully pushed back on Malaysia’s recent attempt to impose additional sanitary barriers to trade. However, for the United States to regain market access, Malaysia must recognize equivalency, a systems-based approach to plant approvals not plant-by-plant and selective approvals, forgo the request for confidential and sensitive plant information, allow import permits to be issued and ensure that all pork and pork products are eligible for export. NPPC is working to remove these barriers as part of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
CONGRESS, CAPITAL UPDATE TAKE BREAK
Congress will begin its August recess next week; Capital Update will not be published again until September 7.