For The Week Ending Nov. 22, 2013





The 2013 Farm Bill conferees are still considering 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 has 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.


NPPC this week submitted comments on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sales and Distribution Annual Summary Report Data Tables. Before releasing the report on animal drug sales and uses, FDA should provide background to allow appropriate interpretation of the data, said NPPC, which also encouraged the agency to consider developing a Q&A section to explain the difficulties with comparing the amounts of antibiotics delivered to animals in feed or water with those that are in an injectable dosage form, or used for different indications. Most importantly, NPPC urged FDA to make it clear in the report that the data will not provide a clear causal link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in human illness.


The four Farm Bill Conference Committee principals – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss. – this week continued meetings to discuss major issues between the Senate- and House-passed farm bills. Contrary to doubtful press reports, NPPC is optimistic Congress will pass a five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill prior to the end of the year. NPPC will continue to keep members up to date on Farm Bill developments.


An ad hoc coalition of agricultural and food organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council this week urged Congress to establish criteria for revoking a country’s tariff-free access to the U.S. market if it fails to give U.S. products treatment consistent with international trade rules. The coalition also weighed in on renewing beneficial trade treatment for African nations that restrict U.S. imports. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) offers tariff-free treatment on many products from developing countries. Last year, 130 nations received such benefits on about 5,000 products shipped to the United States. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is similar to GSP. Congress is set to extend AGOA, which expires in 2015, and to renew GSP, which expired at the end of July. In a letter sent Monday to lawmakers, the coalition pointed out that “barriers to U.S. exports in GSP beneficiary countries are widespread and are often in flagrant violation of international obligations. The fact that these countries may maintain these restrictions on U.S. goods while benefitting from unilateral preferential treatment for their products in the U.S. market – and with little apparent concern about losing those tariff benefits – is clearly inconsistent with the intent of Congress, and we believe this must change,” the coalition concluded. In a separate letter to Congress, the coalition stated its strong opposition to a long-term or permanent extension of AGOA. Either extension, said the coalition, would remove any incentive for beneficiary nations to move toward reciprocal trade relationships with the United States. A number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, have non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. goods, most of which violate World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules. In extending AGOA, the coalition is urging lawmakers to require, at a minimum, that beneficiary countries “refrain from erecting blatantly protectionist and WTO-incompatible barriers to our products.”


Laurie Hueneke, NPPC director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary and Technical Issues, last week participated as a member of the U.S. delegation at the 45th session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) in Hanoi, Vietnam. CCFH is a committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization and its World Health Organization to promote food safety and harmonize international food standards. The committee agreed to advance the “Proposed Draft Guidelines for Control of Specific Zoonotic Parasites in Meat for Trichinella spp.” to the Codex Commission for final adoption in July 2014. The draft standard includes a provision to accept a negligible-risk standard for trichinae based on establishing a compartment based on surveillance at the packing plant. According to Dr. Ray Gamble, president ex-officio of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, the odds of trichinae in the U.S. commercial pork supply is 1-in-300 million. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the U.S. commercial herd as low risk. Despite the negligible risk status of the U.S. commercial herd, numerous countries require trichinae-free certifications and costly mitigations for U.S. pork. The guidelines on trichinae would allow the United States to demonstrate its negligible risk status. NPPC worked with experts to provide significant input into the draft trichinae guidelines. New work was also approved for “Guidelines for the Control of Nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. in Beef and Pork” and “Guidelines on the Application of General Principles of Food Hygiene to the Control of Foodborne Parasites.”


NPPC hosted a swine health conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week as part of its ongoing efforts to collaborate with trading partners and pursue capacity building initiatives. The event bought together more than 190 representatives from industry, government and academia to discuss the importance to the United States and Vietnam of preventing swine disease and building a healthy swine herd. The conference was introduced by Claire Pierangelo, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, and by Nguyen Thi Thuy, vice general director of the Vietnam Department of Animal Health. Other speakers included Dr. Bob Rowland, Kansas State University researcher and internationally recognized porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome (PRRS) expert; and NPPC President-Elect Dr. Howard Hill, who gave an overview of the U.S. pork industry, including biosecurity measures, animal safety and welfare and the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program. NPPC partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Animal Husbandry Association of Vietnam and the Vietnam Veterinary Association. The United States and Vietnam are parties to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations. As the U.S. bilateral relationship with Vietnam grows, NPPC will continue to promote capacity building events and initiatives.


NPPC reiterated its position this week that Taiwan drop its ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine in an advertisement that ran on the back page of the political news publication Roll Call. The call comes during a visit to the United States by a Taiwanese business delegation led by the country’s former vice president, Vincent Siew, who asked for the U.S. government to support Taiwan’s entry into the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations. Although the Taiwanese parliament voted last year to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from cattle produced with ractopamine, it left the ban in place on pork produced with the same product. Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. It has been approved for use in hogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 25 other countries. Last year, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. In 2012, the U.S. exported 18,128 metric tons of pork and pork products to Taiwan, valued at $41 million. According to analysis by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the quantity and value exported to Taiwan is far below the potential that the United States could export if the ractopamine ban were removed. NPPC is working closely with the U.S. government to ensure Taiwan abides by World Trade Organization rules on trade and lifts its ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine without further delay. Click here to see NPPC’s ad.




NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano will travel to Thailand next week to meet with government officials and private-sector representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest in the trade relationship between Thailand and the United States. U.S. pork exports to Thailand are severely limited by a number of unscientific and non-tariff trading barriers, including the reluctance of the Thai Department of Livestock and Development to grant import licenses for uncooked U.S. pork, an inspection fee that discriminates against imported pork and a ban on the importation of pork produced using ractopamine. Despite multiple assurances from Thai officials that the country is moving toward adoption of Codex standards on ractopamine, Thailand has yet to align import procedures with Codex safe maximum residue levels. Last August, NPPC was informed by the commercial minister of the Royal Thai Embassy, that Thailand was in the process of modifying import procedures to be consistent with Codex’s standards for ractopamine. In December, NPPC received another letter stating that an amendment on the use of ractopamine in animal feed must be approved by the Thai Subcommittee on Animal Feed Quality Control and that the subcommittee was reviewing the amendment, but no timeline on progress was provided. NPPC is working to remove Thailand’s import barriers and encourages that country to follow science-based international standards for trade in agricultural products.


Congress will begin its Thanksgiving recess next week; Capital Update will not be published again until Dec. 6.


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