For The Week Ending June 7, 2013
HOUSE PASSES ANIMAL DRUG USER FEE ACT
The House last week passed, 390-12, a bill to reauthorize for five years the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA). The House took up the measure (S. 622) approved by unanimous consent in the Senate May 8. NPPC praised Congress for approving legislation that will give pork producers access to products that safeguard animal and public health. First enacted in 2003, ADUFA and AGDUFA allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to collect fees from animal health companies for the review and approval of animal health products, including ones for farm animals and pets. The fees supplement the agency’s annual congressionally-approved appropriations and have enabled FDA to dramatically reduce its review time for new animal drugs, bringing medications to market more quickly while maintaining high standards for safety and effectiveness. The legislation was approved without amendments. Opponents of modern livestock production had threatened to offer provisions to restrict from use in food-animal production certain antibiotics and to require reporting of on-farm uses of animal health products.
HOUSE COMMITTEE HOLDS RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD HEARING
The House Oversight Subcommittee on Energy Policy last Wednesday held a hearing titled “Up Against the Blend Wall: Examining EPA’s Role in the Renewable Fuel Standard.” National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger testified on behalf of the animal agriculture industries, saying that EPA’s unsuccessful management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waiver process has distorted feed costs for animal producers. Brandenberger said distortion has unnecessarily increased the price of food. The RFS last year required 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline; it mandates that 13.9 billion gallons be blended in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.9 billion bushels of corn, or about 40 percent of the nation’s crop. Click here to watch the hearing and read statements.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS BILL MARKUP
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies last Wednesday marked up and approved the fiscal 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill. The bill’s discretionary spending is $1.3 billion (6.2 percent below the fiscal 2013 level) and $516 million (2.6 percent) below the president’s budget request. The bill’s mandatory spending is $120 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion above the fiscal 2013 level and a decrease of $2.1 billion from the budget request. The bill provides $19.5 billion in discretionary spending for the Agriculture Department, FDA and Commodity Futures Trading Commission and cuts of $214 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. The bill will be taken up in the full Appropriations Committee this week. Click here for more detailed funding information.
SENATE VOTES FOR CLOTURE ON FARM BILL
The Senate last Thursday voted 75-22 to invoke cloture on the five-year farm bill, S. 954. Senators will vote on final passage of the farm bill on today at 5:30 p.m. Invoking cloture cleared a major hurdle for the Senate farm bill, bringing it one step closer to the president’s desk. There were no amendments added related to the pork industry during consideration. Next up, the House is slated to take up the bill the week of the June 17.
CHILE LAUNCHES SAFEGUARD INVESTIGATION ON FROZEN PORK IMPORTS
Chile initiated a safeguard investigation in May on all imported frozen pork, including imports from the United States. Under international trade rules, safeguard measures are temporary emergency actions, such as duty increases, taken against imported products that have caused or threaten to cause serious injury to the importing country’s domestic industry. The Chilean Pork Producers Association alleges that imports have resulted in losses to its industry and have requested an additional duty of 14.3 percent on all imports. A commission will conduct a 90-day investigation to determine whether safeguard measures should be imposed and, if so, at what rate. All interested parties, including NPPC, have an opportunity to present written evidence and arguments and to appear at a hearing on the investigation. U.S. pork exports are not injuring the Chilean pork industry, according to NPPC. While U.S. exports have grown, they remain small and stable both in relation to pork consumption and pork production in Chile. In fact, while Chilean pork producers continue to account for over 95 percent of domestic consumption, Chilean producers have significantly increased their sales in export markets. NPPC believes that the charges of price distortion are unfounded and will vigorously defend the investigation on behalf of U.S. pork producers. NPPC is working with its outside U.S. trade counsel and has hired local counsel in Chile to represent the interests of the U.S. pork industry.
OIE ADOPTS NEW STANDARDS ON TRICHINAE
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) adopted the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code Chapter on Trichinellosis and agreed to continue work at its annual general session meeting last week. NPPC advocated making appropriate changes to the chapter on Trichinellosis to ensure flexibility and specificity to allow countries such as the United States to document and defend their negligible risk status. Unfortunately, the adopted chapter lacks specificity and flexibility. The text outlines a combination of audits and surveillance measures that must be taken to document risk of trichinae, and only several European countries will be able to take advantage of the standard. The new chapter is so vague that NPPC is concerned it will encourage countries to continue to impose additional trichinae-related restrictions on pork. However, according to USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, there is a negligible risk of trichinae in U.S. commercial pork, and it does not present a risk to public health. Dr. Ray Gamble, president ex officio of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, found that the odds of trichinae in the U.S. commercial pork supply are 1-in-300 million. The United States supports guidance provided by the International Commission on Trichinellosis that a population of pigs may be considered to pose negligible risk for Trichinella based on a statistically valid surveillance program and further evidenced through reported human health data.
SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON USTR NOMINEE FROMAN
The Senate Finance Committee this week held a hearing on the nomination of Michael Froman, current Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, as U.S. Trade Representative. Froman emphasized the administration’s ambitious trade agenda, including completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the launch of free trade talks with the European Union, and answered questions about trade enforcement and specific bilateral issues. Froman stated that President Obama is seeking Trade Promotion Authority, which allows the president to negotiate trade deals based on strategic goals and objectives outlined in the legislation with ongoing congressional oversight 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.
EPA ABANDONS PLAN FOR NEW CAFO RULE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week announced an agreement with environmentalists to abandon plans for a new nationwide clean water rule for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Under the terms of its May 2010 “sweetheart” settlement agreement addressing development of total maximum daily load standards for nutrients going into waters of the Chesapeake Bay, EPA promised to develop a national CAFO rule that put in place “stringent permitting requirements for land application of manure, next generation nutrient management plans” and a record system and database to track the transfer of manure. Under the terms of its revised agreement with environmentalists, EPA will now be required to simply evaluate the status of state CAFO/AFO programs within the seven-state Chesapeake Bay region, conduct four AFO inspections and review four CAFO permits per year and make an assessment by June 2018 on whether revisions to the CAFO program within the Chesapeake Bay are necessary.
FISCAL 2014 AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL MOVING TO FULL COMMITTEE
The fiscal 2014 agriculture funding bill will be taken up by the full House Appropriations Committee this week.
SENATE SET TO MOVE ON TO IMMIGRATION
The Senate will begin debate on immigration reform this week.
NPPC TRAVELS TO EUROPE AND SOUTH AFRICA
NPPC President Randy Spronk and NPPC staff will be in Geneva, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belguim, this week for meetings with U.S. and foreign officials on a number of trade matters, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. NPPC Past President and Chairman of NPPC’s Trade Committee RC Hunt and a number of porcine disease experts travel to South Africa with NPPC staff this week to build relationships with the South African pork industry and to discuss with U.S. and South African government officials market access for U.S. pork.