For The Week Ending Oct. 11, 2013
HOUSE PASSES BILL TO FUND FDA
The House Monday passed on a 235-162 vote a bill to fund the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the partial government shutdown. However, the legislation has slim prospects of Senate action. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., mentioned this is the ninth bill the House has sent to the Senate to reopen a portion of the federal government.
USDA PUTS LIMITED VACCINE-APPROVING EMPLOYEES BACK TO WORK
USDA this week allowed selected employees within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) to resume working even though the government is still partially shut down. The move allows veterinarians and farmers to have access to the essential vaccinations they need to keep animals healthy. Without these employees, CVB cannot test and release vaccines for sale.
TRUCKERS HAULING LIVESTOCK MUST COMPLY WITH NEW DOT HOURS-OF-SERVICE RULE
Truckers hauling livestock now will need to comply with a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule requiring them to take a rest break if more than eight hours have passed since beginning service. Livestock drivers had been given a waiver until Oct. 9 from complying with the rule, which took effect July 1. The hours-of-service regulation from DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to take a 30-minute break for every eight hours of service. NPPC, along with 13 other livestock, poultry and food organizations, in June petitioned the FMCSA to give livestock haulers a 90-day waiver from complying with the rule. NPPC subsequently requested a permanent exemption from the rule. That request is still pending before the FMCSA but may be delayed because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
NPPC APPEALS RULING ON HEAVY-HANDED EPA NUTRIENT PROGRAM
NPPC and a coalition of national agriculture groups Monday appealed last month’s decision by a federal judge in Pennsylvania to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) restrictive nutrient program for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Under the program – known as the Chesapeake Bay TMDL – EPA sets a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for all nutrients in all streams and waterways within the seven-state Chesapeake Bay watershed. The coalition filed the appeal to preserve the states’ primary power over land use policy and water quality. EPA’s framework of a TMDL dramatically oversteps the authority of the Clean Water Act, forcing states within the watershed to impose standards dictated by EPA on all sources within the state, including agriculture, whether EPA has jurisdiction over them or not. The failure of a state to meet these standards would result in the threat of significant economic penalties, ranging from loss of federal funding for state programs to an EPA-threatened refusal to issue permits for new facilities and forcing reductions in the operations of existing permit holders.
NPPC PARTICIPATES IN NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION AGENCY SPRINKLER STANDARDS MEETING
NPPC this week participated in the first meeting of the National Fire Protection Agencies (NFPA) Animal Housing Technical Committee as it begins revising the model fire code. Last year NPPC learned that NFPA voted to revise the fire code so all animal housing facilities, including swine barns, would be required to install sprinkler systems in addition to other mandatory features. The decision was made without any input from livestock producers. NPPC filed a successful objection to these revisions. In addition to the requirement for sprinklers, NPPC eventually discovered a number of other animal welfare provisions previously included in the fire code. These included provisions backed by animal-rights activists on standards regarding sizes for individual animal pens, including zoo and research animals as well as livestock species. This process is expected to continue, with public input, over the next three years.
TPP LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS PROGRESS AND REMAINING WORK
Secretary of State John Kerry met with leaders from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia. The leaders issued a statement saying that significant process on a TPP agreement has been made in recent months and instructing negotiators to proceed to resolve all outstanding issues, with the objective of finalizing an agreement by the end of this year. The TPP is a comprehensive regional trade negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Those countries account for nearly 40 percent of global economic output. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, increased pork exports resulting from a TPP agreement would create more than 20,000 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs. Also this week, a Japanese official said Japan will consider revising its list of sensitive agricultural products, which includes pork, now excluded from the negotiations. NPPC wants Japan’s – and the other TPP countries’ – tariffs on pork to be eliminated just as they have been in the 17 FTAs the United States already has implemented. Japan’s inclusion in TPP earlier this year makes it the single most important trade negotiation ever for the U.S. pork industry and for many other U.S. agriculture sectors. Japan is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales.
NPPC TRAVELS TO EUROPE FOR TTIP MEETINGS
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano this week traveled to Europe to meet with officials in connection with the recently launched free trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union (EU) – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). NPPC supports the negotiation of an FTA with the EU, which represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports, with consumption totaling 20 million metric tons annually – the second largest market in the world for pork consumption. While the EU could be a lucrative market, numerous barriers prevent the U.S. pork industry from exporting significant amounts of pork there. Barriers include multiple quotas with high in-quota duties, a ban on the use of ractopamine, mandatory trichinae mitigation, a prohibition on pathogen-reduction treatments and a costly plant approval system. NPPC is working with other U.S. food and agriculture groups to make sure that the EU’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are addressed.
CME GROUP, NPPC ANNOUNCE 2014 LOIS BRITT SCHOLARSHIP
NPPC this week announced it is accepting applications for the 2014 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship Program, sponsored by the CME Group. Four $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to students pursuing a career in the pork industry. Students should be an undergraduate in a two-year swine program or four-year college of agriculture. Applications should include a letter indicating the student’s role in the pork industry after graduation, an essay of 750 words or less describing and providing solutions to an issue facing the industry today, two letters of reference from current or former professors or industry professionals and a cover sheet that includes name, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, school name, year in school and permanent mailing address and telephone number. All of the items should be submitted in a single envelope to: National Pork Producers Council, ATTN: Craig Boelling, PO Box 10383, Des Moines, Iowa 50306. Additional information can be found on NPPC’s website or by calling Craig Boelling at (515) 278-8012.
HOUSE TO NAME FARM BILL CONFEREES AFTER DEBT CEILING DISPUTE SOLVED
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Thursday said the House may appoint Farm Bill conferees this weekend. The conferee list will be comprised of 12 Republicans and nine Democrats, though appointing conferees is not expected to happen until after the debt ceiling dispute is at least partially solved. Likely House Republican conferees include: Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R.-Okla., Michael Conaway, R.-Texas, Rick Crawford, R.-Ark., Steve King, R.-Iowa, Austin Scott, R.-Ga., Glenn Thompson, R.-Pa., Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Kristi Noem, R-S.D., Martha Roby, R.-Ala., Rodney Davis, R.-Ill., Jeff Denham, R.-Ca., and Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LIKELY TO CONTINUE INTO NEXT WEEK
Most congressional hearings scheduled for next week have been cancelled because of the continued partial government shutdown.