For The Week Ending Dec. 13, 2013
FDA ANNOUNCES ANTIBIOTIC GUIDELINES AND PROPOSES NEW RULE
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week announced the final Guidance 213 and proposed rule changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Guidance 213 asks veterinary drug companies to voluntarily remove growth promotion labels from antibiotics important to human medicine and to increase veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of those same antibiotics. The VFD rule modifications are focused on the process of expanding and demonstrating veterinary oversight of antibiotics added to animal feed. NPPC has been working with FDA on the issues to ensure the new regulations are workable on farms and will be providing comments on the proposed VFD rule. Click here to submit comments on the proposed VFD rule.
HOUSE OKAYS FARM BILL EXTENSION; SENATE UNLIKELY TO FOLLOW SUIT
The House yesterday approved a one-month extension of current farm programs (http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20131209/BILLS-113hrFARMEXT-SUS.pdf), through Jan. 31 to give House and Senate lawmakers who are part of a conference committee more time to craft a consensus new Farm Bill. Negotiations are bogged down because of continuing disagreements between the parties over spending for food stamps and expanding crop insurance for farmers, among other issues, but a new Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of a five-year Farm Bill has brought optimism that a deal can be completed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said they will not consider an extension of the current Farm Bill and plan to have a long-term deal ready in early January. Although the House begins its holiday recess today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-Minn., are expected to return next week to work on a framework for developing legislative language for a new Farm Bill.
HOUSE APPROVES BUDGET TO END SEQUESTER
The House Thursday approved on a 332-94 vote a two-year budget bill that ends the $63 billion sequestration spending cuts that were set to kick in next year. The budget deal allocates more than $1 trillion for fiscal year 2014, with an increase of $63 billion for 2014 and 2015. However, the deal also includes $85 billion in deficit reductions over the next 10 years. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, D-Wash., crafted the legislation that is now headed to the Senate, where a vote is expected next week. President Obama has announced his support for the measure. Once signed into law, Congress must approve a large spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year to fund the government.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON EPA ELECTRONIC REPORTING PROPOSAL
NPPC this week submitted on behalf of a coalition of livestock organizations comments on a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require anyone who holds a federal Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, as well as state agencies that manage CWA permits, to electronically submit those permits and any associated reports to EPA for inclusion on a web-based national database. For farmers who do not discharge and do not need to obtain a federal permit, the proposed rule nevertheless would require states to submit information associated with state permits or records of state inspections at the farm. The organizations said they cannot support EPA’s E-Reporting Rule because it would lead to the unlawful dissemination of personal information about the country’s farmers, and they expressed extreme disappointment that, despite the level of controversy and attention over EPA’s release earlier this year of personal and private information on farmers, the agency’s latest proposal doesn’t protect private, personal information. NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation filed suit against EPA after in February it released to environmental groups under the Freedom of Information Act raw data from farms in 30 states, including, in some instances, farmers’ home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses as well as information on employees of operations. Until that litigation is resolved, they said, EPA should delay further development of the proposed E-Reporting Rule as it applies to farmers. The agricultural and food organizations also raised concerns with the proposal’s provision to organize farmers’ personal information into a publicly available, searchable database. That would create a “system of records,” which must be protected from general disclosure under the Privacy Act. The agency also must consider the privacy protections in the Paperwork Reduction Act, pointed out the organizations, which also reiterated their concerns about the security and biosecurity of farms. Those concerns were made previously in response to EPA’s 2011 proposal to develop a CAFO Reporting Rule and database of information on farms. Click here to read the comments.
COLOMBIA REMOVES ITS TRICHINAE BARRIER TO U.S. PORK EXPORTS
Colombia today issued its decision to remove all trichinae risk-mitigation requirements on U.S. pork, which include testing and freezing of U.S. pork and pork products. NPPC worked closely with the U.S. government and Colombian officials to reach an agreement on removal of all mitigation requirements. Colombia now will recognize the United States as “negligible risk” for trichinae and require that all pigs whose meat is intended for export be part of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program. This concept is consistent with forthcoming international standards on determination of negligible risk for trichinae. The removal of the trichinae mitigation requirement and the ability to ship fresh/chilled pork will boost U.S. pork exports. Through October of this year, U.S. exports of pork and pork products to Colombia have reached more than 26,000 metric tons, an increase of 77 percent compared with the same time last year, making Colombia the ninth largest export destination for U.S. pork and the largest export market in South America. NPPC will continue its efforts to remove trichinae mitigation requirements in Chile, Peru and Singapore, in connection with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, as well as in other markets that maintain this barrier.
SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON RFS
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Wednesday held an oversight hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed implementation plan for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2014 volume requirements, hearing from both EPA and Department of Energy officials as well as affected stakeholders and environmentalists. Under EPA’s proposal, which is a response to issues concerning the blend wall and a federal Appeals Court decision earlier this year on the cellulosic ethanol mandate, blending levels for all biofuels would be reduced from 18.15 billion to 15.21 billion gallons and for corn ethanol from 14.4 billion gallons to 13 billion gallons. Last week, EPA held an all-day hearing for public comments on a proposal to partially waive the RFS requirements in 2014. Written comments on EPA’s proposal are due Jan. 28, 2014. Click here to read testimony from the EPW hearing.
NPPC SUPPORTS CALL FOR FULLY FUNDING USTR
NPPC joined a coalition of agricultural organizations and companies in expressing concern to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees over the current and future funding of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The coalition urged the chairmen and ranking members of the committees to consider the critical importance of exports to the nation’s economic recovery and to fund USTR at levels that allow it to fulfill its mission to develop U.S. international trade policy, oversee free trade negotiations and enforce existing agreements. The coalition further pointed out that “the agriculture community at large depends heavily on opening markets and enforcing current trade agreements. However, insufficient funding jeopardizes USTR’s mission to safeguard U.S. exports and carry out trade negotiations necessary to keep the United States competitive in world markets.” Exports add significantly to the bottom line of each U.S. pork producer. U.S. exports of pork and pork products were valued at a record-breaking $6.3 in 2012, representing about 27 percent of production and adding almost $56 to the value for each hog marketed.
TPP NEGOTIATORS MAKE PROGRESS IN SINGAPORE
Ministers and Heads of Delegation from the 12-member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) announced they made “substantial progress” toward completing a TPP agreement, following meetings Dec. 7-9 in Singapore. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that, although negotiators had made some progress in market access, not enough was made to achieve a meaningful agreement. In a letter sent to the Obama administration last week, NPPC and 41 food and agricultural companies and organizations asked U.S. negotiators to insist that Japan and Canada fully adopt key TPP objectives, including the elimination of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers and comprehensive market access, including for sensitive agricultural products. Japan currently maintains a list of sensitive agricultural products, which includes pork, that it wants 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 is the top value export market for U.S. pork, accounting for almost $2 billion in 2012 sales. After Japan, Vietnam – with domestic pork consumption of 2 million metric tons per year – offers the greatest potential for expanded U.S. pork exports. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, increased pork exports resulting from a TPP agreement would create more than 15,500 direct and indirect U.S. pork-related jobs. Negotiators plan to meet again next month.
WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE SEEKS TO STREAMLINE TRADE
The 159-member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a multilateral agreement on Saturday at the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia. WTO members agreed to trade texts on three main issues: trade facilitation, some issues in agriculture and export competition. The “Bali package” represents the first multilateral agreement since the creation of the WTO in 1995. In October, NPPC led a coalition of 31 food and agricultural companies and organizations in expressing concern with an earlier proposal on food security that would have exempted government procurement of food from being counted as a subsidy and linked food aid to domestic price support programs, which have more to do with boosting farm income and increasing production than feeding the poor. According to preliminary analysis, the final Bali food security deal should have little to no impact on global hog and pork supplies or prices.
CAPITAL UPDATE RETURNS IN 2014
With the House already adjourned and the Senate set to adjourn next Friday for the year – not to return until Jan. 6, 2014 – the next edition of Capital Update will be issued Jan. 10. In the meantime, from the NPPC staff, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a healthy and prosperous New Year.