For The Week Ending April 25, 2014
HOUSE LAWMAKERS URGE JAPAN TO ELIMINATE TRADE BARRIERS
More than 60 members of the House this week urged the Obama administration to press Japan to eliminate tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for U.S. agricultural products as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. President Obama met April 24 in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Abe to discuss, among other things, the TPP. In their meeting, President Obama said, “I’ve been very clear and honest that American manufacturers and farmers need to have meaningful access to markets that are included under TPP, including here in Japan.” In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 63 House members, led by Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., Ron Kind, D-Wis., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., said they are concerned that Japan has not made a comprehensive offer on market access for agricultural goods. Japan is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector, including exclusion from the agreement of certain “sensitive” products, including pork. The United States never has agreed to allow a trading partner to exempt as many tariff lines as Japan is requesting – 586. In the 17 free trade agreements the United States has concluded since 2000, 233 tariff lines have been exempted from having their tariffs go to zero. The House lawmakers pointed out in their letter that acquiescing to Japan’s demands would be inconsistent with U.S. requests in previous trade deals and “could undermine the careful balance of concessions the other eleven economies have achieved. If Japan is allowed exemptions, other TPP countries could demand similar treatment, and the entire agreement would be at risk of unraveling.” NPPC praised the lawmakers and reiterated that its support for the TPP is contingent on Japan removing obstacles to free trade.
SENATORS ASK APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE FOR PEDV DISASTER ASSISTANCE
As the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies finalizes the fiscal 2015 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, a group of six senators this week asked for funding to address pork producer losses from the devastating Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). In an April 14 letter, the senators, led by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., noted that PEDv has killed more than 6 million pigs in the Unites States, and there is currently no vaccine for the virus that has a 90-100 percent mortality rate. The senators asked that robust funding be appropriated for fiscal 2015 to USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture programs to study PEDv and Swine Delta Corona Virus and to develop a vaccine. Sens. Hagan and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in March also sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging approval of PEDv disaster assistance, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on April 4 sent a similar letter to Secretary Vilsack. In related news, the USDA last Friday announced new required reporting of PEDv and the Swine Delta Coronavirus. NPPC, the National Pork Board, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, pork producers and state animal health professionals have been working with USDA on dealing with the viruses. NPPC will continue to provide input to USDA as it further develops responses to these devastating diseases and will keep members updated on new developments.
FULL U.S. COURT OF APPEALS TO HEAR MEAT GROUPS’ CASE AGAINST LABELING LAW
A lawsuit filed by meat industry trade groups, including NPPC, against USDA’s country-of-origin labeling (COOL) scheme will be heard May 19 by the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The en banc hearing – all 11 judges presiding – comes after a three-judge panel of the same court in March ruled against NPPC, the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations. The groups had argued – and are arguing – that, in promulgating the 2013 rule, the Agriculture Secretary exceeded the authority granted by Congress in the COOL statute and that the rule violates the First Amendment by compelling speech – labeling of meat. The case was on appeal from a U.S. District Court. USDA proposed the latest iteration of the rule in March 2013 after a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel in 2011 ruled in response to a complaint by Canada and Mexico that the original (2008) COOL requirements violated the WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade agreement. Despite that ruling, USDA made the 2013 COOL requirements even more complex and discriminatory against foreign meat and livestock. Canada and Mexico filed WTO cases against that rule. The international trade body is expected to issue a decision on the complaints in June or July. Should the labeling rule not be compliant, Canada and Mexico would be allowed to impose retaliatory tariffs on a host of U.S. products, including pork.
NPPC MEETS WITH CANADIAN, MEXICAN PORK PRODUCERS GROUPS
NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, President-Elect Ron Prestage, Vice President John Weber, CEO Neil Dierks and Vice President and Counsel for International Affairs Nick Giordano recently met in Puebla, Mexico, with staff and board leadership from the Canadian Pork Council and the Mexican pork producer organization, the Confederacion de Porcicultores Mexicanos. The producer groups discussed issues of mutual interest, including animal health, food safety, industry economics, animal care and trade.
‘STATE OF THE INDUSTRY’ HEARING
Pork industry economist Steve Meyer next Wednesday will testify on the economic state of the U.S. pork industry before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit. Click here for more details.
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE TO HOLD TRADE POLICY HEARING
The Senate Finance Committee next Thursday will hold a hearing on President Obama’s 2014 trade policy agenda. The hearing will feature testimony from U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. Click here for more details.