For the Week Ending March 8, 2013





NPPC March 9 at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held March 8-9 in Orlando, Fla., elected new officers and members to its board of directors. Taking over as president of the organization is Randy Spronk, a producer from Edgerton, Minn.; Howard Hill, a veterinarian with Iowa Select in Cambridge, Iowa, became president-elect; and Dr. Ron Prestage, a producer from Camden, S.C., was elected to the vice president’s position. Each was elected for a one-year term. Prestage was re-elected to the board for a three-year term. Also elected to the board in the producer category – and serving a three-year term – were Jim Compart, from Nicollet, Minn.; Ken Maschhoff, from Carlyle, Ill.; and A.V. Roth, from Wauzeka, Wis. In addition to the newly elected and re-elected officers and board members, continuing as NPPC directors are: Gary Asay, from Osco, Ill.; James Heimerl, from Johnstown, Ohio; William Kessler, from Mexico, Mo.; Mark Legan, from Coatesville, Ind.; Bill Luckey, from Columbus, Neb.; Ray Summerlin, from Rose Hill, N.C.; and John Weber, from Dysart, Iowa. Al Deutsch, who works for Automated Production Systems in Assumption, Ill., remains as the allied industry representative, and Chris Hodges, with Farmland Foods in Kansas City, is the newly elected packer-processor representative. R.C. Hunt, a producer from Wilson, N.C., will serve on the board as immediate past president. Producers Phil Borgic, from Nokomis, Ill., and Scott Hayes, from Monroe City, Mo., were elected for one-year terms to NPPC’s Nominating Committee, which reviews the credentials of candidates for the organization’s board of directors.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last Tuesday testified before the House Agriculture Committee on “The State of the Rural Economy,” taking a number of questions on the logistics and impacts of USDA’s proposed furloughs of federal meat inspectors under the federal budget sequestration. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., asked Vilsack whether it is USDA policy not to use flexibility in managing the sequester. To read testimony, click here.


The U.S. Department of Commerce signed a final agreement with Mexican tomato growers and exporters on last Monday to modify a 1996 trade pact on imports of Mexican tomatoes and avert a possible trade war between the United States and Mexico. Commerce officials worked with Mexican tomato growers and importers to draft the agreement, which resolves issues stemming from the Commerce Department’s 1996 anti-dumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico. That year, the department negotiated a suspension agreement with Mexican producers of fresh tomatoes that has since set a reference price for tomato imports from Mexico. The agreement had been renewed multiple times, but in June 2012, U.S. tomato producers requested a withdrawal of the underlying anti-dumping petition to terminate the suspension agreement and possibly to file a new anti-dumping case. Following this request, the Mexican government stated that if the suspension agreement were terminated, it was prepared to take retaliatory actions. NPPC urged Commerce officials to proceed with caution since termination of the agreement could have led to retaliation against U.S. pork exports, putting at risk the 9,000 U.S. jobs supported by current U.S. pork exports to Mexico. If the U.S. pork industry were to lose the Mexican market, U.S. live hog prices would fall by $14 within the first year, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.


Despite multiple assurances from Thai officials that the country is moving toward adoption of Codex standards on ractopamine, Thailand has yet to align import procedures with Codex safe maximum residue levels (MRLs). In July 2012, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food safety, approved an MRL for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. In August, NPPC was informed by the Commercial Minister of the Royal Thai Embassy, that Thailand was in the process of modifying import procedures to be consistent with Codex’s standards for ractopamine. In December, NPPC received another letter stating that an amendment on the use of ractopamine in animal feed must be approved by the Subcommittee on Animal Feed Quality Control and that the subcommittee was reviewing the amendment, but no timeline on progress was provided. In addition to Thailand’s non-science-based ban on the importation of pork produced using ractopamine, exports are also restricted by the reluctance of the Thai Department of Livestock and Development to grant import licenses for uncooked U.S. pork and an inspection fee of five Baht per kilogram ($170 per metric ton) on imported pork compared with an inspection fee of only $15 on domestic pork. The 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 Thailand’s import barriers and encourages that country to follow science-based international standards for trade in agricultural products.


The CME Group March 9 at the annual business meeting NPPC – the National Pork Industry Forum held March 8-9 in Orlando, Fla. – awarded scholarships to four college students who intend to pursue careers in the pork industry. NPPC administers the scholarship selection process. The winners of the $2,500 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, N.C. – are:
• Sarah Marketon, Howard Lake, Minn., freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
• Janae Mogler, Alvord, Iowa, sophomore at South Dakota State University.
• Sterling Schnepf, Granville, Iowa, junior at Iowa State University.
• Samuel Wildman, South Charleston, Ohio, junior at The Ohio State University.
This is the 23rd year of the CME scholarship program, which recognizes outstanding youth in the pork community. To be eligible, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals.


The late Don Paulson, a pork producer from Bloomington, Minn., March 9 was inducted into the Hall of Fame of NPPC for his outstanding contributions to the U.S. pork industry. The induction came at NPPC’s annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held March 8-9 in Orlando, Fla. One of the pioneers of the industry’s grassroots organizing, Paulson developed a vibrant and successful state organization in Minnesota, with an impact that was felt far beyond his home state. He devoted his time and considerable talents to uniting producers and the pork industry for a common cause – increasing demand for pork. Paulson, who grew up on a diversified farm in south central Minnesota, became a vocational agriculture teacher and a Future Farmers of America adviser. He helped establish the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, served as its first executive director and helped other states establish pork producer organizations, sharing his experience and expertise for the good of the national industry. As head of the Minnesota association, he oversaw the establishment of county pork producer organizations and the steady growth in membership in them and the state organization. During the years of the voluntary Pork Checkoff, Minnesota, under Paulson’s leadership, consistently ranked among the top states in producer participation in the program.




The 16th round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement continues through March 14 in Singapore with work remaining on 21 of the 29 chapters. 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. The TPP negotiations represent the best opportunity for the U.S. pork industry to remove sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) barriers to trade and eliminate import duties in the countries involved in the negotiations. Of the current TPP member countries, Vietnam offers the most potential for expanding U.S. pork exports, especially pork variety meats. Japan has also expressed renewed interest in joining TPP negotiations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could make an announcement on Japan joining negotiations this week. NPPC supports Japan’s entry into TPP as soon as possible. Such a move would increase opportunities for U.S. exports to Japan; in 2012, Japan was the top value market for U.S. pork exports, totaling almost $1.99 billion. The next TPP negotiation round will be held in May. TPP member countries hope to conclude the agreement by the end of the year.


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