For The Week Ending July 25, 2014
USDA ISSUES INFORMATION ON PDEV REPORTING PROGRAM
USDA has issued details on understanding and complying with its reporting program related to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), Porcine Deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) and other swine enteric coronavirus diseases. Read the information here. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working to address the diseases with a plan that includes required reporting of outbreaks and herd management plans, including biosecurity steps, producers can implement to help deal with the diseases. APHIS will subsidize biosecurity actions such as truck washing and disinfecting. Other efforts producers take may be reimbursable, including laboratory testing fees and ongoing diagnostic monitoring of pigs. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced June 5, at NPPC’s World Pork Expo, a federal order making reporting of PEDv and the other viruses mandatory. He also announced $26.2 million in funds to address the diseases, including:
• $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 31 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.
HEARING HELD ON REFORMING SMALL AGRICULTURE BUSINESS SIZE STANDARDS
The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade Thursday held a hearing to look at alternatives to the current statutory framework defining the small business size standard for agricultural businesses. Under the Small Business Act, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sets small business size standards that are employee- or revenue-based. However, small agricultural business size standards are statutorily established. SBA dropped the size standard for small agricultural businesses in 1984 to $100,000 in annual receipts from $500,000. In 1985, the size standard was raised to $500,000. In 2000, Congress raised the standard to $750,000 in annual receipts. Subcommittee Chairman Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said the incorrect size standard may hurt small agricultural producers by denying them access to SBA programs. Tipton said the subcommittee will continue to look for solutions to the problems voiced at the hearing. Witnesses included farm owners as well as representatives from SBA and the United Fresh Produce Association. Missouri farm owner Ken Keesaman said the SBA size standards should more accurately represent today’s small agricultural operations. Colorado farm owner Mark Oestman agreed, suggesting SBA consider significantly increasing the $750,000 threshold. Click here to read testimonies.
COURT RULES FDA NOT COMPELLED TO HOLD HEARINGS ON ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York this week reversed a 2012 U.S. district court ruling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had to hold hearings on the safety of two antibiotics used in food-animal production. FDA had been sued by several advocacy organizations for not responding promptly to a citizen’s petition that asked that the drugs be withdrawn. The appeals court found that FDA isn’t required to hold the hearings because it made no official finding that the antibiotics pose a public health risk. The antibiotics in question, penicillin and tetracycline, under FDA’s Guidance 213 by December 2016 will no longer be used as for growth promotion in food animals. Click here to read the ruling.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE HOLDS SCHOOL LUNCH HEARING
The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday held a hearing titled “Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children,” focusing on the nutrition standards implemented in fall 2012 for meals sold through USDA’s National School Lunch Program. Authorized by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the standards require schools to: offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods; supply only fat-free or low-fat milk; and reduce saturated fat, sodium, trans fat and calories. According to USDA, 31 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 22 million students receive free or reduced lunch. Betti Wiggins, executive director of the office of food services for the Detroit Public Schools, testified that the rules are working for her district. However, School Nutrition Association representative Julia Bauscher said some school districts have struggled with the changes, noting that USDA data shows student participation has declined in 49 states since the new rules took effect. Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., cited a study that found 70 percent of elementary school leaders reported that students prefer the new school lunches. But Bauscher cited a multi-university study that found the requirement to serve fruits or vegetables with meals results in nearly all fruits and vegetables thrown in the trash, which is approximately $684 million worth of produce wasted each year. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., expressed concern that schools are being inundated with regulations and are backing away from the program. Johanns and Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., stressed that flexibility is key in making the school lunch program a success. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., disagreed, saying school reimbursements for meals should increase by 35 cents from the current $2.92 per meal. Gillibrand also noted that obese children cost the United States $2.4 billion and said it is time to stop serving processed food. Meat was not discussed at the hearing. Overall, the notion to maintain or increase flexibility for school lunch programs was split along party lines. Click here to read testimonies and watch the hearing.
NPPC REITERATES CALL FOR TAIWAN TO DROP BAN ON U.S. PORK
NPPC in a letter sent this week to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman reiterated its position that Taiwan drop its ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine. The call comes as Taiwan is pushing for the negotiation of a Bilateral Investment Agreement with the United States. Taiwan also is expressing interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade deal of Pacific Rim countries. Although the Taiwanese parliament voted in 2012 to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from cattle produced with ractopamine, it left the ban in place on pork produced with the same product. Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. It has been approved for use in hogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 25 other countries. In 2012, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. In 2013, the U.S. exported nearly 18,104 metric tons of pork and pork products to Taiwan, valued at $40.3 million. According to an analysis by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the quantity and value of pork exported to Taiwan is far below the potential that the United States could export if the ractopamine ban were removed.
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION HOLDS 37TH SESSION IN GENEVA
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and its World Health Organization to promote food safety, coordinate international food standards and ensure fair practices in the food trade, held its 37th session in Geneva, Switzerland, last week. At the meeting, risk management recommendations from the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods (CCRVDF) were presented for eight drugs, including Carbadox. The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, which provides scientific risk assessments to Codex, had found that there is no safe residue level of Carbadox and seven other compounds and recommended that Carbadox and the other compounds not be used in food-producing animals. The Codex Commission accepted the CCRVDF recommendations. The action sets a bad precedent for Codex in regulating what drugs producers can use, according to NPPC. For other drugs, Codex establishes recommended maximum residue levels in the final product rather than recommends the product not be used by producers. The U.S. delegation to the Codex meeting opposed adoption of the recommendations, arguing that they could encroach on the right of individual national government regulatory bodies to use different measures to ensure the absence of any potentially harmful residues in products sold in domestic and export markets. The Codex Commission also approved new work for its Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) on developing salmonella guidelines for pork. The document, titled Guidelines for the Control of Nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. in Beef and Pork Meat, will focus on the post-harvest control of the pathogen. It has been found that post-harvest is the most optimal time in the food chain for salmonella mitigation. NPPC will work closely with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services throughout the Codex process to ensure a positive outcome for the U.S. pork industry. Additionally, the commission considered recommendations from the CCFH to adopt guidelines for control of Trichinella in pork meat. It conditionally adopted the recommendations, directing the CCFH to revisit sections covering risk-based control measures and monitoring and review and to resubmit the guidelines for final adoption at the next Codex meeting in 2015. The Trichinella guidelines will be an important document for the U.S. pork industry, because it can be used by the United States and other countries to ensure the safety of pork to trading partners. Currently, some trade partners such as the European Union and South Africa impose unnecessary Trichinae mitigation steps on the U.S. pork industry. But, according to studies by Dr. Ray Gamble, the past president of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, there is virtually no risk for trichinae in the U.S. commercial swine herd. A Codex document that creates counterproductive international standards on parasites would be burdensome on the U.S. pork industry, so NPPC will work with USDA and the U.S. delegation to the CCFH to help shape final guidelines.
HOUSE LIKELY TO TAKE UP FUNDING LEGISLATION AS SOON AS NEXT WEEK
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, this week said the House likely will consider a stopgap funding measure to avoid a government shutdown when it returns from its August recess in early September. House leadership also discussed voting on a short-term spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), as soon as next week. Without a bill for FY 15, the federal government would not be funded after Oct. 1.
HOUSE AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE TO HOLD BROADBAND HEARINGS
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit next Tuesday will hold a hearing on coordinating future investments in broadband. Click here for more information.