For The Week Ending Dec. 7, 2012
WTO DETERMINES REASONABLE TIMEFRAME FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF MCOOL RULING
A World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitrator this week determined that the “reasonable period of time” for U.S. implementation of WTO rulings in the dispute over the U.S. Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL) law is 10 months from the adoption of reports issued by a WTO Dispute Settlement Panel, or by May 23, 2013. Canada and Mexico in September asked for WTO binding arbitration to determine a timeframe for the United States to implement the panel ruling against the U.S. law requiring pork and beef to be labeled with the country of origin. In June, the WTO Appellate Body upheld the panel ruling that the MCOOL law violates U.S. trade obligations under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. If it does not abide by the WTO ruling, the United States risks retaliation from Canada and Mexico, both of which filed complaints with the WTO over the U.S. labeling law. In 2011, Mexico and Canada were the second and fourth largest export markets by value for U.S. pork, with exports totaling $1.04 billion and $736 million, respectively.
SENATE APPROVES RUSSIA PNTR
The Senate this week approved by a vote of 92-4 House-passed legislation authorizing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and ending the application of the Jackson-Vanik law. NPPC took no position on Russia PNTR because of that country’s persistence in imposing non-science-based trade barriers such as zero tolerance on pathogens in raw products, a standard no country in the world can meet. Because of the tremendous uncertainty in the market resulting from those ongoing unscientific barriers, only 41 percent of total U.S. pork plant capacity is eligible to export to Russia. Although U.S. pork exports to Russia have increased this year between January and September compared with the same period last year, the U.S. pork industry is not realizing its full potential, according to NPPC.
NPPC VOICED SUPPORT FOR RESOLUTION OF CALIFORNIA PORT STRIKE
A settlement agreement reached Tuesday evening ended an eight-day strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., two of the nation’s largest ports. NPPC and other groups representing U.S. producers, processors and exporters of livestock, poultry and products from those animals sent a letter to President Obama this week expressing concern over the strike and its impact on the U.S. economy. The letter emphasized the growing importance of international trade to the vitality and sustainability of American agriculture, particularly animal agriculture. In 2011, U.S. exports of pork and pork products totaled 2.26 million metric tons ($6.2 billion), representing about 27 percent of production and adding $55 to the value for each hog marketed.
FAO PROPOSES GUIDELINES ON ANIMAL WELFARE
In its draft Global Agenda of Action in support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is proposing animal welfare guidelines that are not consistent with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare guidelines. The OIE is recognized by the World Trade Organization as the international authority on animal health, including welfare. The U.S. government and livestock industries are supportive of the OIE’s development of science-based and outcomes-based guidelines. NPPC is submitting comments expressing concern that the FAO has proposed more prescriptive and unscientific standards that could actually undermine animal care and overall sustainability of global pork production and safe food availability by advocating for practices that create a larger carbon footprint. NPPC strongly recommends that FAO reference the OIE guidelines for animal welfare in this and any future documents without further elaboration.
FARM BILL STILL UP IN THE AIR
Congressional leadership has yet to decide on an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill or a new five-year agriculture blueprint. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., are trying to convince the Obama administration and congressional leaders to include the Farm Bill in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations to avoid more than $500 billion in tax increases and more than $100 billion in automatic spending cuts that would go into effect in 2013. NPPC is carefully monitoring and researching the potential impacts of an extension and a new Farm Bill and will keep members updated on developments.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE WELCOMES NEW REPUBLICAN MEMBERS
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., this week welcomed seven new Republican members to his panel, including: Dan Benishek of Michigan, Chris Collins of New York, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Jeff Denham of California, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, Doug LaMalfa of California and Ted Yoho of Florida.
TPP TALKS CONTINUE; U.S., AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND QUESTION CANADIAN SUBSIDIES
The 15th round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement continues through Dec. 12 in Auckland, New Zealand, with Mexico and Canada formally joining negotiations. TPP is a regional trade pact of 11 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Prior to the 15th round, Australia’s and New Zealand’s pork associations joined NPPC in again urging Canada to end its federal and provincial hog subsidy programs, which are distorting the North American and world pork markets. Australian, New Zealand and U.S. pork producers pointed out that the Canadian government’s subsidy programs are counterproductive to the goals of TPP. According to Iowa State University economist, Dermot Hayes, the elimination of Canada’s most trade-distortive provincial subsidy program, Quebec’s Farm Income Stabilization and Insurance Program (ASRA), would add $576 million to the U.S. pork sector and add 4,611 U.S. jobs within 10 years. Click here to read a press release on the issue released by NPPC and the Australian and New Zealand pork associations.