For the Week Ending December 1, 2017

December 4, 2017

SENATE VOTE ON TAX BILL EXPECTED SOON; MEASURE MUST BE RECONCILED WITH HOUSE BILL

The Senate appears close to a vote on a tax bill that cuts tax rates, eliminates the estate tax and increases certain business deductions but limits or eliminates other tax breaks. The House passed a similar tax plan Nov. 16. Both measures, which will need to be reconciled, would:

  • Create new pass-through tax rates, reduce rates for subchapter C corporations and consolidate individual tax rates.
  • Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), expand the bonus depreciation deduction for certain assets and increase the deduction for Section 179 equipment.
  • Increase the exemption from and eventual repeal of the estate tax while retaining stepped-up basis.
  • Eliminate Section 199 – the Domestic Production Activities Deduction – limit business interest expense deductions for larger businesses and eliminate the net operating loss carryback provision.

NPPC was among 179 agricultural groups on a recent letter urging House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to retain Section 199, which is used by many agricultural co-ops. The council will continue to advocate for the interests of the pork industry as a final tax reform bill is shaped.

 

REQUIREMENT FOR FARMERS TO REPORT AIR EMISSIONS DELAYED

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late last week delayed until Jan. 22, 2018, a mandate that farmers report certain air emissions from manure on their farms. The court in April rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association on Nov. 9 filed a brief in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to delay the mandate so that the agency could have “more time to provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions and to develop a system that allows farmers to comply with their legal obligations.”

 

NPPC WINS WAIVER FROM TRUCKING REGULATION FOR LIVESTOCK HAULERS

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) last week granted drivers who haul livestock a 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being. The regulation requires certain drivers, including ones hauling livestock, to install Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on their trucks. NPPC, which requested the waiver on behalf of the U.S. pork industry and other livestock sectors, also asked for an exemption from the regulation, citing the incompatibility between transporting livestock and DOT’s Hours of Service rules. Those rules limit truckers to 11 hours of driving daily, after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and restrict their on-duty time to 14 consecutive hours, which includes nondriving time. During the waiver period, which ends in mid-March 2018 – the ELDs regulation is set to take effect Dec. 18 – DOT is expected to consider the livestock industry’s exemption request. On November 30, NPPC submitted comments to DOT on the industry’s exemption request that reinforce animal welfare concerns and includes background on U.S. pork’s Transport Quality Assurance program as an effective means to ensure proper animal care and transportation safety. The comments are available here.

 

SENATORS ASK COMMERCE SECRETARY FOR NAFTA ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

A bipartisan group of senators last week penned a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, urging the Trump administration to initiate a complete economic analysis of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to determine the impact changes to it, including withdraw from the agreement, would have on the U.S. agriculture sector. The United States is the world’s top exporter of food and agricultural products. In the letter, senators said, “It is imperative that before any changes are made to NAFTA, or any other free trade agreement, that economic analysis that illustrates the impact on the full supply chain of the industries involved be shared. As such, we request an economic analysis that examines and evaluates the impacts to crop and livestock sectors as a result of any change to NAFTA.” NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to remain committed to NAFTA and to maintain zero-duty market access for pork exports to Canada and Mexico. A U.S. withdraw from NAFTA would cost the U.S. pork industry $1.5 billion.

 

APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED FOR PORK INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIPS

NPPC now is taking applications for the 2018 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program, which is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation. The program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CME hog futures and was renamed in 2006 to honor late-NPPC board member Lois Britt. A lifetime supporter of agriculture, Britt spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, finishing out her career for 15 years with Smithfield Hog Production, doing public and government relations work. Among her many honors, she was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Pork Council Hall of Fame and awarded the North Carolina 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award. The scholarship program annually awards $2,500 scholarships to 10 students who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry, with hopes that they may emerge as pork industry leaders. For more information on the program, visit www.nppc.org or click here.

 

NPPC ATTENDS CODEX TASK FORCE MEETING ON ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE

The fifth session of the Ad Hoc Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission – the U.N.’s food-safety standards-setting body – was held this week in Jeju, South Korea, with NPPC chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and NPPC’s director of international trade policy, sanitary & technical issues, Courtney Knupp, attending. Both were at the meeting to provide technical expertise on the foodborne spread of antimicrobial resistance. Wagstrom is a member of the U.S. delegation to the Codex commission; Knupp is a delegate to the non-profit International Meat Secretariat. The focus of the meeting was revising the Codex Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial Resistance and drafting new guidelines on integrated surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. Those items will be addressed over the next two years as the task force formulates recommendations it will present to the Codex commission. NPPC will be an active contributor as it remains focused on animal and consumer health as well as international trade facilitation.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

U.S. AG CENSUS ON THE HORIZON

American farmers and ranchers, including U.S. pork producers, will soon receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The questionnaire, distributed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), can be returned via mail or by online submission forms. All submissions are due Feb. 5, 2018.