For The Week Ending
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE REVIEWS FY 2015 FDA BUDGET REQUEST
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Thursday held a hearing on the fiscal 2015 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) budget request with testimony from FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Among the topics discussed was antibiotic use in livestock. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., expressed concerns about the seeming duplication of the agency’s collection of additional antibiotic use data, already collected through National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). Hamburg said NARMS is an important tool but needs to be expanded and advanced to determine what types and for what purposes antibiotics are being administered. Click here to watch the hearing and read testimonies.
PROPOSED RULE COULD VASTLY EXPAND EPA JURISDICTION OVER WATERS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week issued a proposed rule on what constitutes a “water of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, a regulation that could expand the agencies’ jurisdiction to include “waters” with little hydrologic connection to navigable waterways. NPPC is reviewing the rule to determine its effect on agriculture. Also this week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said the Obama administration won’t receive funding to implement the rule until EPA provides Congress with cost estimates and other details of it. The proposed rule not only would apply to navigable rivers, their tributaries and adjacent wetlands but to intermittent or ephemeral streams and artificial channels if water from them could reach a navigable river. The proposed rule also would allow EPA and the Corps of Engineers to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to regulate geographically isolated water bodies and wetlands based on how they are judged to affect the physical, biological and chemical integrity of navigable waters. It is worth noting that EPA released the proposed rule though the agency has yet to complete its Connectivity Report, a scientific study EPA undertook to better understand how various water sources are connected to the navigable waters regulated under the Clean Water Act.
FDA CONFIRMS ANIMAL HEALTH COMPANIES PHASING OUT CERTAIN ANTIBIOTICS
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week announced that 25 of 26 animal health companies have committed in writing to withdrawal approvals for growth promotion uses in food animal production antibiotics that are important in human medicine and to change the remaining therapeutic uses of their products from over-the-counter to use by Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) or prescription. Both were requirements under the agency’s December 2013 Guidance for Industry 213. (The one hold out is a foreign-based company that markets an antibiotic used in fish production.) NPPC, which pointed out when the guidance was proposed that FDA did not provided scientific evidence to support removal of growth promotion uses of antibiotics, said the phase out of them will mean production and management changes on the farm. It said that while antibiotics are only one tool in a comprehensive herd health strategy and given that growth promotion antibiotics attacked bacteria that can make animals sick and, therefore, restrict their growth, farmers will need to work with their veterinarians to come up with alternative strategies to keep their animals healthy.
NATIONAL AG DAY HELD ON CAPITOL HILL, BORLAUG STATUE UNVEILED
The 2014 National Agriculture Day Tuesday was celebrated in Washington, D.C. Among the many activities were an educational briefing, luncheon, panel discussion, reception and dinner at USDA. Also, a statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug was dedicated in the National Statuary Hall of Fame in the U.S. Capitol. Known as the Father of the Green Revolution, Borlaug developed a high-yield, disease resistance wheat, which is believed to save the lives of one billion people from starvation. The recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science, Borlaug would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Ag Day. Newly-elected NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa, was in town for the events. Click here for view photos from the events.
NPPC TRAVELS TO THE PHILIPPINES
NPPC Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano this week traveled to the Philippines to meet with U.S. and Filipino government officials and private-sector representatives to discuss issues related to access for U.S. pork. While sales to the Philippines were more than $112 million in 2013, exports are being limited by several non-tariff barriers, including the use of a WTO-illegal reference price scheme and numerous other non-tariff restrictions. The barriers the Philippines imposes are robbing the United States of tens of millions of dollars in annual pork exports. According to domestic industry experts, total pork imports into the Philippines are suppressed by at least 30 percent as a result of non-tariff barriers. NPPC is working closely with officials from the United States and the Philippines to minimize the impact of the barriers on U.S. pork exports.
JAPAN TRADE OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON
Japanese Deputy Chief Negotiator Hiroshi is in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler to continue bilateral talks on market access issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade agreement (FTA) of Pacific Rim countries that includes Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Discussions between the two countries focused on agriculture and autos. The talks precede a trip to Japan in April by President Obama, who will meet with Japanese President Abe. Japan is an important market for U.S. agriculture – the fourth largest – which shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013. Japan’s current TPP market access offer on agriculture would exempt almost 600 tariff lines from tariff exemption. This level of exemption is almost three times the number of tariff lines exempted from tariff elimination in all 17 U.S. FTAs concluded since 2000. This terrible precedent, if established, would affect all future FTAs. A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork products will negatively affect U.S. pork exports for the next 20 years, meaning billions of dollars less in U.S. pork sales and tens of thousands of less U.S. jobs. It is important that U.S. pork producers let Congress know they will not settle for a subpar TPP deal that does not include market access for U.S. pork. U.S. pork producers should contact their elected officials and urge them to seek clear and unequivocal assurances from U.S. trade negotiators that the TPP negotiations will not close unless the Japanese agree to eliminate all barriers on U.S. pork and pork products. Click here to take action.
NPPC LEGISLATIVE ‘FLY-IN’ SET FOR NEXT WEEK
NPPC will hold its spring Legislative Action Conference April 2-3 in Washington, D.C. The biannual “fly-in” draws from around the country more than 120 pork producers, who lobby their congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry. For more information, contact Gwen Bingham at 202-347-3600.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON STATE OF THE RURAL ECONOMY
The House Agriculture Committee next Thursday will hold a hearing “To Review the State of the Rural Economy.” Click here for more details.