For The Week Ending Jan. 10, 2014
FARM BILL PUSHED BACK
The Farm Bill conference committee likely will not convene until Jan. 27, though House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said a formal schedule has not been established. The four Farm Bill Conference Committee principals – House Agriculture Committee’s Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss. – Wednesday continued their regular meetings to discuss major issues between the Senate- and House-passed farm bills. No details of the meeting were offered. The top three provisions for the pork industry that have not been decided 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.
TPA LEGISLATION INTRODUCED
NPPC Thursday applauded the introduction of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. TPA, also known as “fast-track,” allows the president to negotiate free trade agreements (FTA) based on strategic goals and objectives outlined in the legislation, with ongoing congressional oversight. Deals concluded under TPA are subject to congressional approval without amendments. Currently, the Obama administration is negotiating two ambitious FTAs: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with 11 Asia-Pacific nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the European Union. Securing TPA will provide assurances to trading partners that no changes will be made to any final deal. While passage of TPA is important to getting a TPP Agreement – and future deals such as TTIP – approved, NPPC points out that the even bigger issue is finalizing a comprehensive, high-standard TPP deal. And that means an agreement that includes Japan – the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market – with tariffs eliminated in all of its industry sectors, including agriculture. Japan is demanding special treatment for its agriculture sector, including exclusion from the agreement of or special protection for certain “sensitive” products. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, with the elimination of all barriers to U.S. pork, both the TPP and the TTIP are estimated to create tens of thousands of U.S. pork industry jobs as result of increased U.S. pork exports.
FSIS RELEASES DRAFT SALMONELLA COMPLIANCE GUIDE FOR PORK PLANTS
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this week released its draft Salmonella Compliance Guide for hog slaughter facilities. The guide offers information on best practices to prevent, eliminate or reduce Salmonella levels on hogs at all stages of slaughter and dressing. NPPC is developing comments to submit.
NAFTA TURNS 20
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade deal among the United States, Mexico and Canada. It remains to this day one of the most important free trade agreements (FTAs) the United States has negotiated and has been especially beneficial for the U.S. pork industry. Much of the U.S. pork industry’s early export success came in large part from the increased access to Mexico and Canada gained through NAFTA. Once an inconsequential market for U.S. pork, Mexico now ranks as the second largest value market for U.S. pork exports, valued at $1.13 billion in 2012, and the largest volume market, with more than 600,000 metric tons (MT) exported, a rate increase of 530 percent since implementation. Mexico alone now accounts for more than 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports and approximately 4 percent of U.S. pork production. U.S. pork exports to Canada, as part of NAFTA and previously under the U.S.-Canada FTA, have grown to more than 230,000 MT from just under 7,000 MT in 1989, placing Canada among the top five foreign markets for U.S. pork. NAFTA not only increased pork exports but also increased communication and cooperation among the three nations in the form of animal health capacity building, food safety, regulatory alignment and other issues of mutual interest. NPPC continues to work closely with its counterparts in Mexico and Canada to strengthen the relationship and the North American swine herd.