For The Week Ending June 14, 2013

HOUSE TO CONSIDER FARM BILL WITH POSSIBILITY OF EGG BILL AMENDMENT
The House next week likely will vote on including the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013,” the so-called Egg Bill, in the 2013 Farm Bill. 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. NPPC strongly encourages producers to contact their representative to urge him or her to vote against the Egg Bill amendment (H.R. 1731). Also, visit www.stophsus.com or call 855-723-2847. NPPC would oppose the entire Farm Bill if the Egg Bill is included. There is also a possibility for an amendment to strike the amendment offered at the Agriculture Committee markup in May by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that prohibits states from imposing laws that place production conditions on agricultural goods sold within its own borders but produced in other states. NPPC is supportive of the original amendment offered by Rep. King and would oppose an amendment to strike.

 

FY 2014 AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL APPROVED
The House Appropriations Committee Thursday approved the fiscal year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The bill includes $19.5 billion in discretionary funding ($1.3 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $516 million below the President’s request). An amendment offered by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., defunds the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to implement regulations that would negatively impact livestock producers, passed on a 29-17 vote. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., offered and withdrew an amendment to strike Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL) report language, which could delay the rule for two years. The bill will now head to the House floor for consideration. Also included in the bill is $12.5 million for management of the burgeoning feral swine population, a move supported by NPPC due to the risk feral swine pose to the health of the domestic swine herd. Click here to read more.

 

NO ‘MEATLESS MONDAYS’ IN U.S. HOUSE CAFETERIA
Just days after the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition – of which NPPC is a member – strongly objected to, the food company that operates the cafeteria in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Longworth House Office Building nixed plans to implement “Meatless Mondays.” In a letter sent late last week to House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Robert Brady, D-Pa., the coalition pointed out that, while the United Kingdom-based Compass Group likely was seeking to meet the demands of vegetarian and vegan customers, “’Meatless Mondays’ is an acknowledged tool of animal rights and environmental organizations” that attack U.S. livestock and poultry producers, alleging they provide unhealthy foods while contributing disproportionately to climate change and environmental damage. The coalition called the plan to have such a meatless day a “political tool.” Today, numerous non-meat options are available to choose from in all cafeterias that serve House and Senate lawmakers and their staff.

 

NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED FERAL SWINE DAMAGE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
NPPC Wednesday submitted comments to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regarding the Wildlife Services’ proposal for a national feral swine damage management program. Calling for immediate action, NPPC stated the expanded national feral swine damage management program was long overdue, and inaction would increase the risk of damage to agricultural and environmental sectors. Feral swine are known to exist in 43 percent of swine-producing counties. Feral swine pose a serious disease risk to the domestic population, transferring pseudorabies and brucellosis when feral swine come in contact with domestic hogs. A pseudorabies outbreak would threaten export markets and cause millions of dollars in economic losses to the pork industry. Click here to read NPPC’s comments.

 

NPPC TRAVELS TO GENEVA, BRUSSELS
NPPC President Randy Spronk and NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium, this week to meet with U.S. and foreign officials on a number of trade issues. Discussed in Geneva were World Trade Organization (WTO) issues, including U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the G33 “food security” proposal. In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule for meat labeling in an effort to comply with a WTO ruling that the U.S. COOL law discriminates against Canadian and Mexican exports. The United States could face retaliation from Canada and Mexico, both of which filed complaints with the WTO over COOL, if it does not comply with trade obligations under the WTO. The controversial G33 food security proposal, supported by many developing countries, states that government procurement of food should not be counted as a subsidy and has been an obstacle to agreement in the ongoing WTO Doha trade negotiation round. In Brussels, meetings were held with U.S. and European Union (EU) officials and EU private-sector representatives on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU. The EU represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports, with consumption totaling 20 million metric tons annually, but U.S. pork is currently limited by numerous unscientific trade barriers. TTIP negotiations are expected to begin in mid-summer.

 

NPPC DELEGATION MEETS WITH SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIALS
NPPC Past President and Chairman of NPPC’s Trade Committee RC Hunt, NPPC Director of International Trade Policy for Sanitary and Technical Issues Laurie Hueneke and a number of porcine disease experts traveled to South Africa this week to build relationships with the South African pork industry and to discuss market access for U.S. pork with U.S. and South African government officials. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently renegotiating the U.S. pork export certificate with South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries after South Africa imposed additional requirements on U.S. pork that created a de facto ban on June 1. South Africa notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year that it would impose restrictions on pork from countries with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). PRRS is not a food-safety issue, and there is negligible risk of PRRS transmission from the legal importation of pork from countries with the disease. Other South African barriers to U.S. pork exports include very strict and unscientific time/temperature requirements because of concerns about trichinae and pseudorabies. NPPC will continue to work toward removing all barriers to trade in South Africa and encourage that country to adopt science-based standards.

 

NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON JAPAN’S ENTRY INTO THE TPP
NPPC submitted comments on Sunday to the Office of the United States Trade Representative on negotiating objectives with respect to Japan’s participation in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. The TPP is a comprehensive regional trade negotiation that currently includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. In April, the Obama administration formally notified Congress of its intention to include Japan in the ongoing TPP negotiations. Japan is expected to officially join negotiations in July. In the comments, NPPC highlighted that Japan is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales. 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. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, increased pork exports resulting from a TPP agreement, including Japan, would create more than 20,000 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs.

 

NEW ZEALAND ORDERS INTERIM BAN ON RAW PORK IMPORTS DURING LEGAL PROCEEDING
New Zealand’s Supreme Court issued an order this week preventing imports of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork until it hears an appeal from the New Zealand Pork Industry Board (NZPork). NZPork appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal and High Court decided in favor of a government risk assessment that would further liberalize market access for U.S. pork. The High Court found in favor of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries and its Import Health Standard (IHS) for pork products from countries with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), including the United States. The IHS would allow the importation of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork less than three kilograms. PRRS is not a food-safety issue, and there is negligible risk of PRRS transmission from the legal importation of pork from countries with the disease. The New Zealand Supreme Court will hear NZPork’s final appeal June 26.

 

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE APPROVES USTR NOMINEE FROMAN
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Michael Froman, current Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, as U.S. Trade Representative. 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 adviser, 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 adviser. Froman now needs to be confirmed by the full Senate.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

 

HOUSE TO CONSIDER FARM BILL
The House next week likely will vote on a five-year Farm Bill next week.

 

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITEE TO MARK UP FUNDING BILLS
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations next week is anticipated to mark up the FY14 funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA.

 

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