For The Week Ending June 6, 2014
CALL TO ACTION: ASK LAWMAKERS TO OPPOSE TPP WITH JAPAN’S AG TARRIFFS
NPPC is asking pork producers to contact their congressional lawmakers to urge them not to support a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that allows Japan to keep tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Producers also should ask their congressmen to contact U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to urge him not to conclude an agreement that would be bad for U.S. agriculture and set a horrible precedent for future free trade deals. If the United States accepts Japan’s current TPP offer, it would be a radical departure from past U.S. trade agreements, and U.S. agriculture would lose billions of dollars in future exports and tens of thousands of new U.S. jobs. Click here to take action.
VILSACK ANNOUNCES PEDV REPORTING PLAN, FUNDING AT WORLD PORK EXPO
While speaking to pork producers at World Pork Expo Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a federal order making reporting of the Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) mandatory. Along with mandatory reporting of the disease, Vilsack announced $26.2 million in funds to address the following:
• $3.9 million to be used by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to support the development of vaccines.
• $2.4 million for cooperative agreement funding for states to support management and control activities.
• $500,000 for herd veterinarians to help with development and monitoring of herd management plans and sample collection.
• $11.1 million in cost-share funding for producers of infected herds to support biosecurity practices.
• $2.4 million for diagnostic testing.
• $1.5 million to National Animal Health Laboratory Network diagnostic laboratories for genomic sequencing for newly positive herds.
PEDV has affected hog operations in 30 states, killing an estimated 8 million animals, mostly pre-weaned piglets. Since PEDV first was identified in the United States more than a year ago, NPPC, along with the National Pork Board, has been encouraging pork producers who have had outbreaks of the virus on their farms to voluntarily report to their state veterinarians. Representatives from NPPC, the National Pork Board and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians met with Vilsack prior to his speech to NPPC members to discuss PEDV concerns. They urged the secretary to make research, testing and biosecurity the focus of the new plan.
EPA EXTENDS ONE COMMENT PERIOD ON ‘WATER’ RULE
NPPC obtained a 30-day extension on the comment period for a rule related to changes in the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) that could negatively affect farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extended to July 5 from June 5 the comment period on an agricultural exemptions rule that accompanies a proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” and greatly expand EPA’s and the Army Corps of Engineers’ authority under the CWA. NPPC and 71 national and state agricultural organizations last week requested the comment period extensions for the proposed regulation and the accompanying rule. The proposed rule would redefine “waters of the United States” to include intermittent and ephemeral streams, which could potentially affect agriculture. The agricultural groups pointed out that most of the comment period for the proposed rule and all of it for the agricultural exemption rule fell within the planting season for farmers, leaving them with virtually no time to review and comment on the rules. The organizations asked for an additional 90 days beyond the July 21, 2014, deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule, or 90 days after EPA releases its “Connectivity Report,” which is supposed to serve as the scientific basis for any expansion of CWA jurisdiction. For the agricultural exemptions rule, the groups requested that the comment deadline coincide with the closing date for the proposed rule but be at least an additional 45 days beyond the current June 5, 2014, deadline.
SENATE CONFIRMS CFTC NOMINEES
The Senate Wednesday confirmed three nominees for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Nominees for commissioner include Timothy Massad of Connecticut, who will serve as chairman; Sharon Bowen of New York; and J. Christopher Giancarlo of New Jersey. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., Wednesday expressed optimism that Chairman Massad will change recent CFTC actions that disregard concerns of livestock producers. The House Agriculture Committee in April passed a CFTC reauthorization bill. NPPC was instrumental in getting included in that bill language that would further prevent comingling of customer funds, which was the key issue in the MF Global disaster. NPPC also worked closely with other agricultural organizations to prevent language that would have required producers to “pre-fund” margin call accounts. NPPC is hopeful that the new CFTC positions will have a positive impact on the U.S. pork industry.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS
The Senate Agriculture Committee next Thursday will hold the first in a series of hearings on the reauthorization of USDA’s child nutrition programs. Witnesses have not been announced.
HOUSE TO CONSIDER AGRICULTURAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL
The House next week will consider the fiscal 2015 funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The House Appropriations Committee last Thursday passed the bill that totals $20.9 billion in discretionary funding, which is equal to the fiscal 2014 level. NPPC was successful in keeping out language that granted USDA the ability to implement certain burdensome provisions from the 2008 Farm Bill related to the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA). Also included in the bill is funding for research on the porcine endemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) to better understand the transmission as well as language to encourage compliance with FDA’s 2012 “Scientific Integrity” policy that means FDA must use “hard science” when considering to approve or disapprove a product.