For the Week Ending April 10, 2020

April 10, 2020

NPPC WARNS CONGRESS OF CRISIS IN U.S. PORK SECTOR
U.S. pork producers are under extreme financial duress and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the situation, NPPC explained in a letter to Congress on Tuesday. “The financial situation of U.S. hog farmers is perilous, and their livelihoods are at stake….If the problems in the sector are left unchecked, without rapid government intervention, the situation will spiral out of control,” NPPC explained. Among issues highlighted in the letter were labor shortage issues, trade retaliation and logistics impacts and unfavorable market conditions–all exacerbated by COVID-19. “U.S. pork producers need your help in asking USDA to intervene in the market to ensure that our hog farmers survive and that American consumers are able to continue to purchase high quality U.S. pork at affordable prices,” the letter added.  

CONGRESSIONAL STAFF HEAR FROM U.S. PORK PRODUCERS
As part of the critical U.S. food supply infrastructure, U.S. pork producers are committed to ensuring an uninterrupted supply of high-quality protein to America’s kitchens. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NPPC has been in constant communication with its investors and state affiliates, through direct outreach and regular conference calls, to provide advocacy updates and to hear from pork producers on conditions in the industry. To date, NPPC has hosted producer briefings for congressional staff from Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Indiana to convey the damage COVID-19 has exacted on the industry. NPPC staff have transmitted much of the feedback it received from these calls to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and NPPC will continue to advocate on behalf of its members as additional stimulus packages are considered.  

FEDERAL RESERVE ANNOUNCES MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve announced a new round of programs designed to assist small- and mid-sized businesses deliver critical services during the coronavirus pandemic. The Main Street Lending Program will provide up to $2.3 billion in loans to those who qualify. Among details, the program will provide four-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion, principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year and firms that have taken advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program may also take out Main Street loans. For more information, click here

USMCA LIKELY TO ENTER INTO FORCE JULY 1
Canada and Mexico have completed their internal requirements for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement to go into effect, and the deal could enter into force on July 1 if the United States sends its notification this month. It’s expected that the U.S. will complete its requirements by the end of this month, although both Canada and Mexico have indicated they are flexible if the start date needs to be extended. USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. In 2019, Canada and Mexico took in over 30 percent of the pork that was exported from the U.S. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support over 26,900 U.S. pork jobs. 


NPPC SIGNS LETTER URGING SUPPORT FOR PROPOSAL TO DECREASE SHIPPING COSTS
Recently, NPPC joined 79 agriculture associations requesting the administration ensured the continued free movement of shipping containers to international markets of critical food and agricultural products. The letter, to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow, specifically requests help with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regarding detention and demurrage penalties on U.S. agriculture by ocean carriers and marine terminal operators during the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, ocean carriers impose detention and demurrage fees even when the container is not physically available to be picked up. “The ongoing injury to U.S. agriculture and forestry industries as a result of these unjustified penalties is very real, especially with the challenges posed by the coronavirus. There is great concern about detention and demurrage fees being assessed when there are equipment issues beyond the control of the shipper or motor carrier as a result of the pandemic,” the letter explained. Last summer, the FMC issued a Proposed Interpretive Rule to curtail these fees and the agriculture groups are urging for the expeditious adoption of the rule.