For The Week Ending Nov. 8, 2013
MF GLOBAL CUSTOMERS TO RECOUP ALL THEIR MISSING MONEY
A U.S. bankruptcy judge this week said he would approve a deal that returns all funds to former clients of commodities futures trading firm MF Global, which lost $1.6 billion from customer accounts, including 30-40 percent of all pork producers. When the firm filed for bankruptcy Oct. 31, 2011, it listed assets of $41 billion and debts of $39.7 billion. It was then that farmers who produced at least 20 percent of all U.S. hogs learned that their futures accounts were frozen and funds were “missing.” The $1.6 billion of customer funds were comingled with MF Global money used to buy risky European debt. In late 2012, NPPC urged the trustee overseeing MF Global’s bankruptcy to provide safeguards and protections for customers.
FEDS SEEKING TO EXPAND JURISDICTION OVER NEARLY ALL U.S. WATERS
In a draft document, which was leaked late last night by Bloomberg News and which currently is awaiting White House approval, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a rule that vastly expands the types of waters that fall under the Clean Water Act (CWA), in direct contradiction to recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions. The draft regulation would bring under CWA jurisdiction man-altered and man-made water bodies, including farm ditches, tile drainage and field filter strips. Even wetlands that are “many miles away” from a jurisdictional water could be regulated. The Supreme Court in several instances has limited EPA’s and the Corps’ jurisdiction under the CWA, ruling that it cannot be based on a mere connection to a navigable water or extend to waters far removed from navigable waters. If the draft rule becomes final in its current form, EPA and the Corps will have jurisdiction over large tracts of state and private lands, and CWA permits would be required for a host of activities on them. Farmers, for example, could be required to obtain permits to apply manure, fertilizer or pesticides and, possibly, to plant seeds. NPPC will be reviewing the 350-page draft proposal and will be submitting comments on it once it is published in the Federal Register. In a related matter, NPPC and other agricultural organizations earlier this week filed comments on the EPA scientific report that provided the foundation for the draft CWA proposal.
NPPC SUBMITS EPA SCIENCE REPORT COMMENTS
NPPC, along with other agricultural and industry groups, this week submitted comments to EPA on the agency’s draft science report that examines the connection between various streams and wetlands relative to federally regulated waters of the United States. When finalized, EPA hopes the report will provide the scientific basis for expanding its jurisdiction over the nation’s waterways and wetlands under the CWA. Currently, EPA’s jurisdiction is limited to “navigable waters of the United States.” The Supreme Court has made it clear that to regulate additional water bodies, EPA must show a hydrologic connection to navigable waters. NPPC is concerned that an expansion of EPA’s jurisdiction over waterways will require farmers to obtain CWA permits for tile drainage, grass waterways and ditches on farms. The comments will be provided to an independent scientific advisory board panel for its consideration in advance of a mid-December meeting
PHILIPPINES EXPRESSES INTEREST IN JOINING THE TPP
A Filipino trade official said this week that the Philippines would like to be among the next group of countries to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). “If and when they open a second round of possible members, we intend to be part of that second batch of countries,” said Trade undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. 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. Although there has been no announcement about opening the TPP to additional countries, the Philippines has already begun consultations with some of the current TPP member countries, and the country’s Department of Trade and Industry plans to conduct impact studies on joining the trade pact. Although the Philippines is an important market for U.S. pork exports, with sales valued at $95 million in 2012, exports are limited by several non-tariff barriers. The Philippines has a history of using non-tariff restrictions to limit pork imports; current barriers include the use of a WTO-illegal reference price scheme and cold storage requirements that only apply to imported pork, not to domestic pork.
2014 LOIS BRITT SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED
NPPC is continuing to accept 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.
2013 FARM BILL CONFERENCE CONTINUES
Members of the Senate and House Agriculture committees are continuing to meet in conference to resolve difference between the Senate- and House-passed Farm Bills. Both measures include provisions beneficial to the U.S. pork industry. Conferees next week may take up the so-called King Amendment, which would prohibit 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. In addition to backing the King Amendment, 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 TO ATTEND CODEX COMMITTEE ON FOOD HYGIENCE MEETING
NPPC will participate as a member of the U.S. delegation at the 45th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) in Hanoi, Vietnam.
TTIP TALKS CONTINUE NEXT WEEK
The second round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the United States and European Union will be held next week.