For The Week Ending Nov. 15, 2013
CALL TO ACTION: SUPPORT THE KING AMENDMENT
The 2013 Farm Bill conferees are currently discussing the so-called King Amendment, which prohibits a state from excluding lawfully produced agricultural products from other states from being sold within its borders. Sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the House-approved provision is strongly supported by NPPC. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the chief opponent of the amendment and is implementing a $100,000 misinformation ad campaign against it. HSUS falsely has claimed that the amendment “could wipe out dozens of state laws on farm animal confinement, puppy mills, horse slaughter, shark finning, and even dog meat.” The group even has suggested that child labor laws and environmental regulations would be abrogated by it. Contact your elected officials and urge them to support the King Amendment here.
2013 FARM BILL CONFERENCE CONTINUES
Staff of the members of the Senate and House Agriculture committees are continuing to resolve differences between the Senate- and House-passed Farm Bills. Both measures include provisions beneficial to the U.S. pork industry. The three key provisions that have not seen any resolution yet include: the King Amendment; the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) provision; and the country-of-origin labeling rule. NPPC supports a provision to prevent GIPSA from dictating private livestock contract terms. Also, NPPC is urging conferees to include in the Farm Bill changes to a new USDA rule on country-of-origin labeling of meat to make it compliant with World Trade Organization trade rules. NPPC will continue to keep members up to date on Farm Bill developments.
EPA PROPOSES CHANGES TO ETHANOL PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released a draft proposal for implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) blending volume requirements for 2014. Once published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal. In addition, EPA is seeking comment on petitions for waivers of the RFS that the agency received from regulated parties.
GROUPS WANT NEXT CFTC COMMISSIONER TO HAVE AGRICULTURAL BACKGROUND
NPPC this week joined other agriculture groups in urging President Obama to appoint nominees with agricultural backgrounds for the vacant Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner positions. In a letter detailing the history of the CFTC, the groups made note of current Commissioner Bart Chilton’s extensive agriculture background. With Chilton’s upcoming departure, it is important to have a commissioner with a working understanding of the agriculture industry, said the groups. The president is set to nominate Timothy Massad as chairman of the CFTC. Massad is a senior Treasury Department official with a background in law, who oversaw the Troubles Assets Relief Program, which was created to stabilize the banking and housing sectors while providing relief to auto companies during the recession. It is critical that the core mission of regulating agriculture futures markets does not get lost in the current expansion of the CFTC’s influence, the groups said.
U.S. PORK ELIGIBLE FOR EXPORT TO CAMBODIA
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated its export library in October to include meat and meat products from swine as eligible for export to Cambodia. NPPC identified Cambodia as a potential market for growth and urged that the United States be given access. Prior to Cambodia’s recognition of the FSIS export certificate, many major importers were hesitant to purchase U.S. meat products. Cambodia’s acceptance of the FSIS certificate without any conditions is a victory for U.S. pork producers, with that country agreeing to recognize a systems-based approach to inspection and certification. The acceptance is recognition of the high standard of herd health and level of food safety of U.S. pork and pork products. NPPC strongly urges all countries to accept all USDA federally inspected plants as eligible to export and to adopt a system-based approach to food inspection and certification.
NPPC MEETS WITH OFFICIALS IN PANAMA
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano traveled to Panama this week to meet with government officials and private-sector representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest in the trade relationship between Panama and the United States. Giordano’s trip coincided with a pork producer leadership training class sponsored jointly by NPPC and the National Pork Board held in the Central American country. NPPC has worked closely with U.S. and Panamanian officials on the passage and implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, which took effect last year. Under the agreement, Panama recognized the meat inspection system of the United States as equivalent to its meat inspection system. It also eliminated duties on U.S. pork variety meats and expanded market access for U.S. pork muscle meat through larger tariff rate quotas, which will grow by 6 percent annually until they are phased out after 15 years – U.S. pork exports had been restricted by a small quota and high out-of-quota duties. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Panama trade agreement will add 20 cents to the price U.S. producers receive for each hog marketed, with pork exports to Panama increasing by about $16 million a year. It also will create more than 200 U.S. pork industry jobs. In related news, NPPC’s Pork Leadership Institute, a diverse group of individuals within the pork industry from across the country, traveled to Panama this week to learn about international trade.
U.S.-EU FREE TRADE TALKS CONTINUE
The United States and European Union (EU) this week held their second round of free trade talks, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The EU is the second largest market in the world for pork consumption and represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork exports. However, numerous barriers prevent the U.S. pork industry from exporting significant amounts of pork to the EU; in fact, last year the United States exported more pork to Honduras than to the 28-member European Union. 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 will oppose any trade deal with the EU that does not eliminate all tariffs and all other barriers on U.S. pork. Removal of all EU barriers would significantly increase U.S. pork exports to the EU, creating more than 17,000 U.S. jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. The third round of negotiations is scheduled to be held December 16-20 in Washington, D.C.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON USDA’S RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND ECONOMICS PLAN
NPPC this week provided oral comments to USDA on its draft revised Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area Action Plan for 2013. The REE 2013 Action Plan further develops the vision for USDA’s science, education and information activities, building on the June 2010 Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 and the Roadmap for USDA Science, published in early 2010. The document was initially developed in response to comments received after the release of the Roadmap for USDA Science, a visionary document fulfilling a request from the 2008 Farm Bill. The REE Action Plan lays out the mission area’s highest priority goals and the actions necessary to undertake for achievement of those goals. The current document is reflective of the commitment made to periodically evaluate and revise the Action Plan to maintain relevancy and appropriateness. REE is an important resource for pork producers, and NPPC will be developing more extensive written comments that will be submitted at a later time. Click here to view the REE 2012 annual report.