For the Week Ending August 31, 2018

August 31, 2018

PORK PRODUCERS WELCOME HELP BUT WANT END TO TRADE DISPUTES

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced details of a $12 billion aid package for U.S. agriculture, including a nearly $559 million purchase of pork for federal nutrition assistance and child nutrition programs, $200 million for developing foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products and some payments to farmers, including pork producers. Eligible pork producers will receive $8 per hog based on 50 percent of the number of animals they owned on Aug. 1. NPPC commends the Trump administration for its efforts to bring some relief to America’s farmers from retaliatory tariffs, but continues to urge the administration to end ongoing trade disputes, including lifting duties on metals from Mexico. That should prompt that country to drop its tariffs on U.S. pork and other goods. In a related matter, the United States and Mexico this week announced that they have reached an agreement on a framework for a new trade deal between the countries.

 

AFRICAN SWINE FEVER SPREADS IN CHINA NPPC PUBLISHES GUIDANCE FOR PRODUCERS

The Swine Health Information Center reported on Thursday that a fifth province in China has reported an outbreak of African Swine Fever. NPPC published this paper, authored by NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom, earlier in the week on steps being taken to prevent the introduction of the disease in the United States. The paper includes precautionary measures for U.S. pork producers.

 

JUDGE LIFTS GAG ORDER IN N.C. NUISANCE SUITS

U.S. District Court Judge Earl Britt today lifted a gag order on communications related to nuisance lawsuits filed against more than two dozen North Carolina hogs farms. Britt, issued the gag order in late June as the second nuisance trial was wrapping up. He imposed it on the parties, lawyers and potential witnesses in the lawsuits. The judge said a “significant increase in trial publicity” and the “volume and scope of prejudicial publicity” about the first two cases – one decided in early May and the other two days after the gag order was implemented – could taint future cases. Britt lifted the order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., could rule on a petition to overturn and vacate it. In early August, NPPC and the North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) filed a friend-of-the-court brief with Court of Appeals, asking it to overrule the District Court’s prior restraint on speech, noting that “All but the most carefully crafted, narrow gag orders are unconstitutional.” NPPC and NCPC argued that there is no compelling need for the gag order, the District Court did not consider alternatives to the order – including the jury selection process or jury instructions – the order is overbroad and vague, and it won’t be effective. On the latter point, they said it’s “not reasonable to think that any gag order will reduce coverage of these cases or blunt the public’s interest” in them.

 

NPPC SUPPORTS FOUNDATION FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE RESEARCH IN 2018 FARM BILL

NPPC, as a member of the National Coalition for Food and Ag Research, was among 125 signatories on a letter sent this week to Farm Bill conference committee leadership in support of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. FFAR is a public-private model for agriculture research, which matches each public dollar with at least one dollar of non-federal funding. It funds research for crucial issues facing food and agriculture, such as providing emergency response to emerging pests and pathogens. NPPC continues to urge the conference committee to include in the Farm Bill language establishing and funding a Food-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank at $150 million a year for each of the five years of the bill, as well as annual funding of $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and $70 million for state animal health agencies for foreign animal disease emergency preparation.

 

SENATE CONFIRMS HUBBARD, STUMP AND BERKOVITZ

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed James E. Hubbard to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Dan Michael Berkovitz and Dawn DeBerry Stump to serve as commissioners of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. NPPC looks forward to working with the newly confirmed leadership to protect and advance U.S. pork.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

 

FARM BILL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO MEET SEPT. 5

Farm Bill conferees selected from the House and Senate will meet for the first time Sept. 5 in hopes of reaching common ground on the 2018 legislation and ironing out differences between their respective versions of the bill.

 

NPPC MEMBERS TO LOBBY CONGRESS ON PORK INDUSTRY ISSUES

NPPC will host its fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12-13. The biannual fly-in draws from around the country more than 125 pork producers, including 18 who will be participating in NPPC’s Pork Leadership Institute, a grassroots leadership development program. Producers will lobby congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry, including asking them to urge the Trump administration to end trade disputes and pursue bilateral trade agreements, to rescind regulations detrimental to agriculture, adopt a visa reform package addressing the agricultural labor shortage and to support establishing and funding a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank.