For The Week Ending March 14, 2014
PRODUCERS URGED TO TAKE ACTION AS JAPANESE TRADE OFFICIALS VISIT WASHINGTON
Japanese trade officials were in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with U.S. negotiators to discuss the ongoing market access issues that are critical to completing 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. Japan Deputy Chief Negotiator Hiroshi Oe and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler met in an attempt to sort through the remaining thorny issues before President Obama’s visit to Japan in April, where completing the TPP will be among the main topics of discussion. Access for “sensitive” agricultural products, including U.S. pork, and automobiles into Japan are among the main sticking points that have yet to be resolved. 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 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 this century. 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, which is unacceptable the U.S. pork industry, according to NPPC. 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. Thursday, NPPC joined with other agricultural organizations and Senate Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a media teleconference to call on U.S. trade negotiators to insist that Japan eliminate tariff on and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural products.
FARMER INFORMATION PROTECTION BILL INTRODUCED IN HOUSE
One year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released to environmental activist groups private information on thousands of farmers, the “Farmer Identity Protection Act” (H.R. 4157) was introduced by Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Lee Terry, R-Neb., Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and Jim Costa, D-Calif. The bill would prohibit EPA from disclosing to the public the private and confidential information of livestock and poultry producers. EPA would be limited to disclosing information about farming operations only after all personally identifiable information is removed and after the data are aggregated to prevent the identification of individual livestock and poultry producers and their families. Eight agricultural organizations, including NPPC, Thursday sent a letter to the four cosponsors, thanking them for their leadership on the issue. Similar legislation – the “Farmer Identity Protection Act” (S. 1343) – was introduced in the Senate in July by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
SENATORS WANT DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR PORK PRODUCERS DEALING WITH PEDV
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Thursday urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve disaster assistance for pork producers affected by Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). The disease, which affects mostly pre-weaned piglets, since it was first identified in the country in May 2013 has killed millions of pigs. PEDv does not discriminate against farm size or type, as it broke in 26 states. The 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law last month, permanently extended livestock disaster assistance programs that could help producers deal with the virus, the senators told Vilsack in a letter. They also asked USDA to increase research for a vaccine and other interventions to address PEDv, for which no vaccine or treatment currently exists. NPPC has been working with Congress and USDA on securing fiscal 2015 financial support for PEDv losses and federal resources for PEDv research and surveillance.
TTIP NEGOTIATIONS HELD IN BRUSSELS
The fourth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and the European Union (EU), were held this week in Brussels, Belgium. Prior to this round of negotiations, the two economic powers exchanged initial offers. Unfortunately, the EU has stated it is unwilling to eliminate tariffs on pork, beef and poultry. EU Trade Minister Karl De Gucht said the EU will not change its legislation regarding beef hormones and the feed additive ractopamine, which is used in pork and beef production. The EU is the second largest market in the world for pork consumption and should be a significant export market for U.S. pork exports. But because of numerous trade-restrictive barriers, U.S. pork exports to the EU in 2013 amounted to only 4,505 metric tons – less than U.S. pork exports to some Central American countries. NPPC’s position is that tariffs should be brought to zero on all products, including pork. The elimination of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) and unscientific barriers erected by the EU to protect its domestic pork industry are reasonable requests that are consistent with all previous U.S. FTAs. Removal of all EU barriers would significantly increase U.S. pork exports to the EU, creating more than 17,000 U.S. jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS CFTC NOMINATIONS
The Senate Agriculture Committee last Thursday held a hearing for pending nominations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The nominees include Connecticut’s Timothy Massad, who would serve as chairman; New York’s Sharon Bowen; and New Jersey’s J. Christopher Giancarlo. Committee members Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., raised concerns about the three candidates’ lack of agricultural experience. Massad said the Agricultural Advisory Committee would be chaired and would meet frequently. All three nominees promised to protect the integrity of financial markets and to work to combat excessive speculation. NPPC in November signed onto a letter sent to President Obama stating, “it is critically important to nominate, and the Senate confirm, at least one of the vacant commissioner seats to an individual with a working understanding of agricultural futures markets and our industry.”
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE APPROVES THREE BILLS
The House Agriculture Committee Thursday approved on voice votes the budget views and estimates letter for the 2015 fiscal year, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” and a resolution to commemorate the Smith-Lever Act – the 1914 law that established a system of cooperative extension services connected to land-grant universities. The budget views and estimates letter summarizes the committee’s budget proposals for agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. The “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” (H.R. 935) abolishes an unnecessary permitting requirement for pesticide applications that have already been approved for use under federal law. The committee also approved H. Con. Res. 86, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act.
NPPC WEIGHS IN ON COMPLIANCE GUIDELINE FOR SALMONELLA IN MARKET HOGS
NPPC last week submitted comments on USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) compliance guidelines for controlling and reducing the spread of salmonella in hog slaughter facilities. The guidelines will aid hog slaughter establishments in complying with the relevant regulatory requirements by providing best practices to prevent, eliminate or reduce levels of salmonella on hogs at all stages of slaughter and dressing. NPPC agrees with the concept of providing a strong, technically accurate document to assist small and very small establishments in meeting regulatory requirements. However, the organization is cautious of the guidance becoming a regulatory document and asked FSIS to seek a means to convey to the FSIS workforce that the compliance guidelines are a tool to assist the industry in meeting regulatory requirements. NPPC also requested that FSIS remove information on Campylobacter, Trichinella and Toxoplasma from the compliance guidelines so that it does not divert establishments’ attention from salmonella control.
COMMENTS SUBMITTED ON DIETARY GUIDELINES
NPPC last week submitted written comments to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, which requested input on steps the food industry must take to maintain food safety, to ensure sustainability and to reduce sodium, added sugars and fats in the food supply. In the comments, NPPC said America’s pork producers are among the most environmentally and socially conscious food producers in the world, and they have worked to improve diets and enhance breeding practices to raise leaner, healthier pigs to meet the demand for quality pork with less fat.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED RULE ON VETERINARY FEED DIRECTIVES
NPPC Wednesday submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) proposed regulation. To make the transition of all feed antibiotics to VFD smoother, NPPC proposed seven recommendations for FDA consideration to demonstrate responsible use of antimicrobials under veterinary oversight while protecting animal health. NPPC also expressed appreciation to FDA for acknowledging that applying the current VFD structure to a broader range of products for multiple species could result in unnecessary complexity and consequently cause difficulties for farmers, veterinarians and feed mills that could potentially affect animal health.
NPPC ATTENDS FARM BILL IMPLEMENTATION LISTENING SESSIONS
NPPC, along with other stakeholders, this week attended a series of 2014 Farm Bill implementation listening sessions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sessions included information on natural resources conservation, agricultural research, food safety, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), animal welfare, Farm Service Agency/Risk Management Agency, energy and rural economic development. Click here for more information about USDA’s Farm Bill implementation plan. NPPC will continue to keep its members up to date on Farm Bill implementation strategies.
NPPC ELECTS NEW OFFICERS, BOARD MEMBERS AT NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM
NPPC at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held March 6-8 in Kansas City, Mo., elected new officers and members to its board of directors. Taking over as president of the organization is Dr. Howard Hill, a producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa; Dr. Ron Prestage, a producer from Camden, S.C., became president-elect; and John Weber, a producer from Dysart, Iowa, was elected to the vice president’s position. Each was elected for a one-year term. New members elected to the board for three-year terms were David Herring, of Lillington, N.C.; Phil Borgic, of Nokomis, Ill.; and Terry Wolters, of Pipestone, Minn. They join current directors Jim Compart, of Nicollet, Minn.; Jim Heimerl, of Johnstown, Ohio; Chris Hodges, of Kansas City, Mo.; Bill Kessler, of Mexico, Mo.; Ken Maschhoff, of Carlyle, Ill.; AV Roth, of Wauzeka, Wis.; and Ray Summerlin, of Rose Hill, N.C. Elected for a two-year term as the allied industry representative was Kent Bang, with AgStar Financial. Randy Spronk, a producer from Edgerton, Minn., will serve on the board as immediate past president. Re-elected for two-year terms to the NPPC Nominating Committee were Dave Moody, of Iowa, and Kraig Westerbeek, of North Carolina.
MONTANA’S HERZOG INDUCTED INTO NPPC HALL OF FAME
Don Herzog, a pork producer from Rapelje, Mont., for his outstanding contributions to the U.S. pork industry, last Saturday was inducted into the NPPC Hall of Fame at the National Pork Industry Forum held in Kansas City, Mo. Herzog, a well-respected leader in the U.S. pork industry, engaged at the local, state and national level to protect producers’ interests, promote pork and encourage others to lead. Known for his insight, work ethic and caring nature, Herzog served on the NPPC board of directors for six years during a tumultuous time. Viewing the 2001 separation of NPPC and the National Pork Board as a matter of logistics, he counseled his fellow board members and industry leaders wisely with his trademark humor, diffusing tense situations. While serving on the NPPC board, Herzog listened more than he spoke, preferred to work behind the scenes and kept his family and pork production business as his top priorities. Herzog also worked for the Montana Pork Producers Association.
CME GROUP AWARDS PORK INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIPS TO STUDENTS
NPPC last week at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – in Kansas City, Mo., awarded scholarships, sponsored by CME Group, to four college students who intend to pursue careers in the pork industry. NPPC administers the scholarship selection process. The winners of the $2,500 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, N.C. – are:
- Matt Kerns, Clearfield, Iowa, sophomore at Iowa State University.
- Danika Miller, Terre Haute, Ind., sophomore at Purdue University.
- Drew Mogler, Alvord, Iowa, sophomore at Iowa State University.
- Angela Moss, Burnettsville, Ind., junior at Purdue University.
This is the 24th year of the scholarship program, which recognizes outstanding youth in the pork community. To be eligible, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals.
NPPC, AHI, AVMA TO HOST CONGRESSIONAL STAFF BRIEFING ON ANTIBIOTICS
Animal health experts from NPPC, the Animal Health Institute and the American Veterinary Medical Association Monday will host two congressional staff briefings on “The Impact of FDA’s New Policy on Antibiotic Use in Food Animals.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance 213 established a three-year timeframe for phasing out growth promotion uses of antibiotics important in human medicine, and its proposed rule on Veterinary Feed Directives would phasing in veterinary oversight of antibiotics. The experts will discuss the impact of the new FDA antibiotic policy on the regulated industry, the opportunities and challenges under the policy and ways veterinarians and animal health companies can help meet the challenges. Presenters include Dr. Liz Wagstrom, NPPC chief veterinarian; Dr. Richard Carnevale, Animal Health Institute vice president of regulatory, scientific and international affairs; and Dr. Christine Hoang, American Veterinary Medical Association assistant director of the division of scientific activities.
NATIONAL AG DAY TO BE HELD ON CAPITOL HILL
The 2014 National Ag Day will be held March 25 in Washington, D.C. Among the many activities are an educational briefing, luncheon, panel discussion, reception and dinner at USDA. Newly-elected NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa, will be in town for the event. Click here for more information.