For The Week Ending May 3, 2013
EGG BILL MAY JEOPARDIZE FARM BILL
The “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013,” the so-called Egg Bill (H.R. 1731 and S. 820), a bill NPPC has been actively opposed to since its introduction in 2012, may be considered during the Senate’s markup of the Farm Bill next week. NPPC says that the inclusion of the Egg Bill in the Farm Bill may jeopardize the passage of a farm bill. A spokesman for Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., stated that Johanns will oppose the final Farm Bill if the Egg Bill is included. The bill seeks to put into federal law an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to mandate federal egg production standards. The legislation, strongly opposed by NPPC, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation, would set a dangerous precedent allowing Congress and federal bureaucrats to regulate all on-farm animal production practices. Click here to read more on why NPPC opposes the Egg Bill.
NPPC PARTICIPATES IN BUSINESS DIALOGUE ON JAPAN’S ENTRY INTO TPP
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano participated on a panel discussion on issues for agriculture and industry regarding the recent announcement that Japan will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The panel discussion was part of a day-long event focusing on Japan and TPP. The event featured remarks from former U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) Clayton Yeutter and Robert Zoellick, as well as current acting USTR Demetrios Marantis. Ambassador Marantis reaffirmed the goal of completing TPP negotiations by the end of this year and remarked that although bringing Japan into negotiations at this late stage would be challenging, he believes that Japan’s entry can be seamless. The TPP is a comprehensive, WTO plus regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and, with the addition of Japan, the TPP countries account for nearly 40 percent of global economic output. Japan is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales. Increased pork exports resulting from a TPP agreement would create more than 20,000 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs, with the vast majority generated by Japan alone. Japan’s entry into TPP makes it the single most important trade negotiation ever for U.S. pork and many other U.S. agricultural products. The Obama administration formally notified Congress last month of its intention to include Japan in the TPP negotiations, beginning a 90-day consultation period with Congress and stakeholders before negotiations with Japan can begin. Pending the successful completion of domestic procedures by each TPP country, Japan hopes to participate in negotiations in July.
NPPC SUBMITS RFS ANSWERS TO HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
NPPC this week answered questions posed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding their development of a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) white paper. In addition to NPPC’s answers, NPPC signed on to a broad set of responses prepared by a coalition of livestock and meat organizations who initially petitioned EPA for a waiver of the RFS mandate last July. NPPC’s specific answers supplement the views of the larger livestock coalition and provide additional detail to further inform the committee of the views of the U.S. pork industry and producers’ experience engaging EPA in its decision last fall on a short term waiver of the RFS and in competing in tight markets for corn where growth in demand far outstripped growth in supply. To read the Committee’s questions to the agriculture sector, click here. To read NPPC’s comments, click here.
EPA ISSUES SECOND LETTER TO ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS OVER CAFO INFO
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week issued a second letter to the environmental activist groups that the Agency unlawfully sent concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) information to in February. The first letter sought to retrieve the previously issued data and resend in a redacted form. The latest letter seeks to retrieve the redacted information and replace it with new, further redacted information as EPA recognized that their release still contained significant amounts of private data. The data was released to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests the groups filed. NPPC, along with a number of other agricultural organizations, in March requested that EPA take steps to prevent such a release in the future, to retrieve the data released, and to agree that the information will not be posted to its website or distributed in any form. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is calling for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General into the matter. Nebraska Republican Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer said that with this release, EPA has shown that the agency continues to act as if it is above the law.
UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE NOMINATED
President Obama Thursday announced the nomination of Michael Froman, current Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, as U.S. Trade Representative. If confirmed, Froman would replace former trade ambassador Ron Kirk. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is responsible for developing U.S. international trade policy, overseeing free trade negotiations, and enforcing existing agreements. The head of USTR, the U.S. Trade Representative, is a member of the President’s cabinet and serves as the president’s chief trade advisor, spokesperson on trade issues, and negotiator. NPPC works closely with USTR to expand and preserve market access opportunities for U.S. pork. NPPC has worked closely with Froman in his role as deputy national security advisor. Mr. Froman is familiar with the trade challenges of the U.S. pork industry and we will work with him, as we have his predecessors, to increase and maintain market access for U.S. pork.
NPPC ENGAGED IN RE-OPENING THE RUSSIAN MARKET
The U.S. government, with industry input, is developing a commercial option for U.S. exporters to ensure beta-agonist free pork and beef for Russia. Russia implemented a complete ban on imports of U.S. pork, beef and turkey in February. In December Russia announced it would require pork imports from the United States to show documentation that the pork does not contain ractopamine residues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, does not have a testing and certification program to detect ractopamine residues in pork because the feed additive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe product. NPPC is working closely with other industry partners and the U.S. government to ensure Russia abides by WTO rules and reopens its market to U.S. pork. However, until Russia and the U.S. come to an agreement on how to meet Russia’s unscientific requirement, no U.S. pork is being exported to Russia.
OBAMA TRAVELS TO MEXICO, COSTA RICA
President Obama departed on Thursday for a three day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica to meet with President Peña Nieto of Mexico and President Chinchilla of Costa Rica and discuss issues including furthering bilateral economic and commercial ties. The United States has free trade agreements with both Mexico and Costa Rica, through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), respectively. Mexico is the largest export market, by volume, for U.S. pork. In 2012, U.S. pork exports to Mexico totaled over 600,000 metric tons (MT) valued at $1.13 billion. NPPC works closely with Mexican officials and the private sector to advance the trade relationship and ensure that both countries abide by NAFTA and World Trade Organization obligations. Costa Rica and the other countries of DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) are valuable trading partners for the U.S. Since implementation in 2006, U.S. pork exports have increased nearly 300 percent by volume, exceeding 55,000 metric tons (MT) in 2012 — a value of $130 million.
SENATE, HOUSE SCHEDULED TO START MARKUP OF 2013 FARM BILL BEGINNING NEXT WEEK
The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to begin marking up the 2013 Farm Bill next Thursday. The House Agriculture Committee will begin markup on May 15. The 2008 Farm Bill expired last year when lawmakers failed to approve a final 2012 Farm Bill. The full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee approved bills, but the full House never took up the committee measure. The 2008 bill was extended for a year and will expire on September 30. Lawmakers in both houses are expected to look for significant cuts in farm spending.