For the Week Ending April 27, 2018

April 27, 2018

PERDUE ALLOWS FMD VIRUS ON U.S. MAINLAND; NPPC CONTINUES PUSH FOR FMD VACCINE BANK, FULL FUNDING IN NEXT FARM BILL

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday authorized non-infectious Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) virus to be moved from USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which is off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., to the U.S. mainland for vaccine development and study. (U.S. law prohibits live infectious viruses on the mainland.) While the action is positive for U.S. efforts to protect American agriculture from foreign animal diseases, commercial production and availability of a U.S. FMD vaccine will take years, according to NPPC, which is continuing to urge congressional lawmakers to include in the 2018 Farm Bill language establishing and funding a robust off-shore, vendor-managed FMD vaccine bank. It’s asking for annual funding over the five years of the next Farm Bill of $150 million for the vaccine bank; $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), a network of disease diagnostic laboratories; and $70 million in state block grants for disease prevention. The Farm Bill approved last week by the House Agriculture Committee would establish an FMD vaccine bank but only has first-year mandatory funding of $150 million for the bank, $70 million in block grants to the states and $30 million for the NAHLN. For the remaining four years combined, it calls for $30 million in mandatory funding for state block grants and $20 million, used at the Secretary of Agriculture’s discretion, for the vaccine bank, the NAHLN and the states.

 

SMITHFIELD FOODS TO APPEAL VERDICT IN NUISANCE CASE AGAINST HOG FARM

Murphy-Brown, the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, will appeal Thursday’s court verdict against one of its contract pork producers. A federal jury found in favor of 10 neighbors of an eastern North Carolina hog farm, awarding them $750,000 in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages over complaints of odor and noise from the farm. (North Carolina law caps punitive damage awards at $25 million, so each plaintiff would receive $250,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory ones.) In a statement issued after the verdict, Smithfield Foods said it would appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Va. NPPC, which closely monitored the case, called the nuisance lawsuit “frivolous” and an “unwarranted attack on livestock agriculture,” pointing out that pork producers have “a strong and long-standing track record of environmental stewardship.” The case was the first of several nuisance lawsuits brought by North Carolina residents against hog operations in the state.

 

EPA WANTS MORE TRANSPARENCY FOR SCIENCE USED TO SET REGULATIONS

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt this week proposed a rule to increase the standards for science used in regulations issued by the agency. The rule will require EPA to utilize only studies comprised of publicly accessible data, supporting the EPA’s efforts to increase transparency in its process of issuing new regulations. Pruitt’s proposal follows two executive orders issued by President Trump in March 2017 designed to promote the use of peer-reviewed science and identify regulations that rely on data inaccessible to the public. NPPC supports EPA’s goal of increasing transparency and eliminating the use of undisclosed science as a basis for regulations.

 

PERDUE DISCUSSES CHINA TARIFFS; FARMERS FOR FREE TRADE RELEASES STUDY

In a hearing held by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week to assess the state of the rural economy, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed concerns about U.S. trade policy and the Trump administration’s recent imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods. In response to the U.S. decision to put duties on its steel and aluminum imports, China earlier this month placed retaliatory tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including U.S. pork, which was hit with an additional 25 percent duty. Perdue told the committee that, although China is a key market for U.S. agriculture, the Asian nation’s unfair trade policies, including agriculture subsidies and import restrictions, “have undermined fair trade and the global trading system.” He said that while the administration is taking a “stronger approach to the way we handle trade,” the president has directed him to “use all of my authorities to ensure that we protect and preserve our agricultural interests.” Those interests may be hurt significantly, though, according to a report on the Chinese tariffs released this week by Farmers for Free Trade, a coalition dedicated to supporting and expanding export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers. The study found U.S. pork exports to China face an additional $270 million in duties.

 

NEW TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP MOVES FORWARD

Mexico this week became the first of 11 countries to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – the former Trans-Pacific Partnership – on a 73-24 vote of its Senate. The agreement will go into effect when six of the 11 nations approve it. (In addition to Mexico, the CPTPP consists of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.) Also this week, Japan announced that Toshimitsu Motegi, its economic and fiscal policy minister, will visit Thailand in early May to discuss the agreement, which Thailand hopes to join. Japan anticipates the trip will place pressure on the United States to rejoin the pact. President Trump earlier this month directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to consider rejoining the TPP, but he voiced his preference for a bilateral trade agreement with Japan rather than the multilateral CPTPP. Japan is the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market.

 

NPPC ATTENDS CODEX MEETING ON RESIDUES OF VETERINARY DRUGS IN FOODS

The Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the U.N.’s international food-safety standards-setting body, this week met in Chicago. NPPC Director of International Trade Policy Courtney Knupp attended as a member of the U.S. delegation. Issues discussed during the meeting included the evaluation of veterinary drugs and the setting of maximum residue limits (MRLs) and evaluation of edible offal definitions and potential application to future MRL setting. NPPC works closely with the U.S. government to provide technical support for Codex issues affecting the U.S. pork industry.

 

BARBIC CONFIRMED FOR USDA POST

Ken Barbic was confirmed this week to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s assistant secretary for Congressional Relations by the U.S. Senate. Barbic recently served as senior director for the Western Growers Association, following time as the deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs. Barbic grew up on a family farm in Bakersfield, Calif. NPPC looks forward to working with USDA leadership, including Barbic, to protect and advance the U.S. pork industry.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

WORLD PORK EXPO JUNE 6-8

NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo, this year celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be held June 6-8 at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. For more information about, and media registration for, the world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition, click here.