For The Week Ending Oct. 4, 2013
GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN, AFFECTS HOG MARKETS AND USDA PROGRAMS
For the first time in 17 years, the U.S. government Tuesday partially shut down. The Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded the government and all government programs expired Monday at midnight. The House and Senate have played a game of “hot potato” with the CR over funding (or defunding) of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The Republican-led House has voted multiple times to strip Obamacare funding from the CR, while the Democratic-led Senate has refused to allow any debate on the issue, thus creating a stalemate in the process of restoring funding to the federal government. The shutdown allows USDA Food Safety Inspection Service inspectors to remain on the job. However, several USDA programs were deemed “nonessential” during the shutdown and do not receive funding to continue functioning until the shutdown ends. USDA’s Market News service, which publishes live hog and pork pricing information, stopped their publishing of daily reports because Market News was not deemed “essential” under the government shutdown plan. USDA and the government consider programs “essential” if they are critical in preserving national security, public health and safeguarding the general public. Pork producers and the pork trade consider the Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) daily published reports essential because of the large amount of information published, serving as a reference point for both buyer and seller. Without the information generated from the MPR reports, producers and packers have no immediate access to what should be a publically-available substantial amount of market data. NPPC continues its efforts on a number of fronts to correct this situation.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS CTFC HEARING
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Wednesday held a hearing titled, “The Future of the CFTC: Perspectives on Customer Protections.” In the spotlight was the residual interest provision of their customer protection proposed rule which would require futures customers to provide sufficient capital to futures commission merchants to cover total exposure on margin calls that could periodically transpire throughout the day. This is a drastic change from current interpretation of the law – which allows customers three days to meet margin calls. Many agriculturalists have warned the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that should their rule on customer protections be finalized as proposed, this provision would force many farmers and ranchers to abandon the futures markets for risk management due to considerable costs. This sentiment was echoed by the panelists at the hearing, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group, the National Futures Association, and the National Grain and Feed Association. House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership last week issued a letter to the CFTC voicing similar concerns. In comments submitted in February, NPPC warned against implementing this provision as proposed. NPPC continued to voice concerns through formal and informal communications with CFTC staff, through the CFTC Agriculture Roundtable in February, the CFTC Agriculture Advisory Committee meeting in July, and in an industry letter sent to the CFTC in September. Click here to read testimonies from the hearing.
FDA TO REMOVE ARSENIC-BASED ANIMAL DRUGS IN FEED
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Monday replied to a four-year-old petition from the Center for Food Safety and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, stating the agency is officially revoking approval for the use of arsenic-based drugs in animal feed. FDA says sponsors of three of the four FDA-approved animal drugs added to chicken, turkey and hog feed have removed their products from the market and requested FDA revoke approval. The arsenic-based drug – Roxarsone or 3-Nitro – has been used minimally in pork production to combat against parasites, primarily in weaning-age pigs, and has not been marketed for swine since 2011. The request – regarding three of the four drugs – was debated after the drugs’ sponsors asked FDA to revoke approvals. As for the remaining animal drug, FDA rejected the request because the agency is conducting scientific studies and analyzing information to better evaluate potential concerns related to the safety of arsenic-based animal drugs. Click here to read FDA’s letter. Click here to read FDA’s letter.
VILSACK ASKS BOEHNER TO APPOINT FARM BILL CONFEREES; SENATE RE-APPOINTS FARM BILL CONFEREES
In a hand-written letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday urged the Speaker to appoint House Farm Bill conferees to reconcile differences with the Senate-approved Farm Bill. The most recent farm bill expired Monday. Both the House and Senate have passed their own farm bills, and the Senate already appointed conferees in August. The re-appointed Senate conferees remain the same group. Democratic Senate conferees include Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Pat Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Michael Bennet of Colorado. Republican conferees include Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Pat Roberts of Kansas, John Boozman of Arkansas, and John Hoeven of North Dakota.
NPPC ATTENDS MEETINGS AT THE INTERNATIONAL MEAT SECRETARIAT
NPPC President-Elect Howard Hill and Director of International Trade Policy Laurie Hueneke traveled to Paris this week to attend meetings of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Sustainable Meat Committee and IMS Animal Welfare Committee. The International Meat Secretariat is a non-profit association that brings together meat and livestock organizations throughout the world and provides a forum for discussion of the issues affecting the international meat and livestock sector. NPPC met with representatives from other major pork exporting countries and international organizations to discuss mutual sustainability and welfare issues.
NPPC LEADING THE OPENING OF THE BURMESE MARKET TO US PORK
Burma has agreed to accept the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) export certificate for U.S. shipments of pork to that country. Burma’s acceptance of the FSIS certificate without any conditions follows an NPPC call for Burma to open its market to imports of U.S. pork before being accorded U.S. preferential trade benefits. NPPC in May submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on the extension of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits to Burma. NPPC expressed concern about possible extension of GSP benefits to Burma without market access for U.S. pork. The GSP legislation requires a nation to provide “equitable and reason access to markets” to be considered for benefits. The Burmese government has restricted imported pork by refusing to issue import permits as a way to protect domestic livestock producers. Meat consumption in Burma is low due in significant part to high prices. U.S. pork could help reduce high prices and provide the opportunity for more Burmese to afford meat protein.
NPPC COMMENDS WORLD FOOD PRIZE ON ADDRESSING BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE
NPPC this week joined with 100 organizations and universities to commend the World Food Prize Foundation for their support of science and its application to agriculture. In a letter sent to Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the foundation, the groups thanked the Foundation for entering the discussion of biotechnology through this year’s theme for the Borlaug Dialogue, “The Next Borlaug Century: Biotechnology, Sustainability and Climate Volatility.” The international symposium will take place Oct. 16-18 in Des Moines, Iowa, and will focus on advances in science-based innovation, sustainable agriculture and food security. Additional information about the World Food Prize Foundation and the Borlaug Dialogue can be found at the World Food Prize website.
USTR FROMAN ATTENDS TRADE MEETINGS IN EUROPE, ASIA
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman traveled to Belgium, Switzerland and Indonesia this week to discuss U.S. involvement in ongoing free trade negotiations. In Brussels, Ambassador Froman met with European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and other representatives of European Union (EU) Member States and the EU Commission to discuss bilateral trade ahead of next week’s second round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. NPPC supports the negotiation of an FTA with the EU, which represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports. Removal of all EU barriers will significantly increase U.S. pork exports to the EU, creating over 17,000 U.S. jobs according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. In Geneva Ambassador Froman met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and addressed the WTO Public Forum to outline U.S. priorities and position on a package of issues, including trade facilitation and agriculture, which are a small subset of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations that began in 2001. Negotiators at the WTO are working to conclude a deal on those issues by the December Ministerial meeting. On Thursday Ambassador Froman traveled to Bali, Indonesia, to participate in a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers meeting. The TPP is the single most important trade negotiation ever for the U.S. pork industry and many other U.S. agriculture sectors. According to Hayes, increased pork exports resulting from a TPP agreement would create more than 20,000 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs. Officials have stated that they wish to conclude TPP negotiations by the end of this year.
NPPC VETERINARIAN PRESENTS AT INTERNATIONAL ANTIBIOTICS CONFERENCE
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom this week represented the U.S. pork industry, presenting at the Chatham House Global Health Centre’s “Antimicrobial Resistance: Incentivizing Change towards a Global Solution” conference. Dr. Wagstrom’s presentation titled, “Agriculture’s Impact on Human Antimicrobial Resistance: How Should This Inform Agricultural Practices?” focused on the extent to which antibiotics in agriculture impact not only development of resistance in humans but also the risk of that resistance and how that can be used to guide future programs on responsible use of antibiotics in agriculture. The international audience consisted of academic experts, media, professionals from the pharmaceutical sector, as well as human and animal health policy-makers from the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and other countries.
CME GROUP, NPPC ANNOUNCE 2014 LOIS BRITT SCHOLARSHIP
NPPC announced 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 the in pork industry. Students should be an undergraduate in a two-year swine program or four year college of agriculture. Students should write a letter indicating their 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 including name, mailing address, email 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.
2012 CENSUS FORMS PAST DUE
The 2012 Economic Census is nearing its final days of data collection. The U.S. Census Bureau has provided time extensions to respond. The Economic Census is required by law. The Bureau warns that in this economic environment, it is essential to have the most accurate measure of the U.S. economy. For assistance, call 877-790-1876. Electronic reporting is also available here: econhelp.census.gov.
TPP, TTIP TALKS CONTINUE NEXT WEEK
Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Pritzker and Ambassador Froman will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting next week in Bali, Indonesia, where they plan to meet on the sidelines with leaders from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries. The 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific TPP trade talks are hoping to reach a basic agreement in October and finalize negotiations by the end of this year. The second round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the United States and European Union will also be held next week.
PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LIKELY TO CONTINUE INTO NEXT WEEK
Most Congressional hearings scheduled for next week have been cancelled due to the continued partial government shutdown.