For the Week Ending December 14, 2018

December 14, 2018

CONGRESS PASSES 2018 FARM BILL

NPPC advocacy efforts resulted in a major win for U.S. pork and all of agriculture when Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill this week. The bill, which includes critically important mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness efforts, is expected to be signed into law by President Trump soon. The five-year agricultural blueprint includes mandatory animal health and disease preparedness funding of $120 million for the first four years of the bill. At least $5 million per year must go to the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program in the form of state block grants, and the remaining dollars can be allocated across the vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and state block grants. Additionally, NAHLN is authorized for another $30 million per year for all five years of the bill. The fifth year of the bill includes another mandatory $30 million for all three programs, but at least $18 million must go toward the state block grants. The bill also authorizes appropriations for the vaccine bank and the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program for sums determined to be necessary. In addition to the animal health and disease-preparedness provisions, the bill includes funding for the International Market Development Program, which includes the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program that support export markets for U.S. farm goods. These programs are funded at not less than $200 million and not less than $34.5 million, respectively.

 

EPA ANNOUNCES PROPOSED NEW ‘WOTUS’ RULE

NPPC applauded this week’s announcement by the Trump administration of a proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The regulation would replace the WOTUS rule issued in August 2015 by the Obama administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That measure gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters. Prior to the 2015 rule, EPA’s jurisdiction over waterways – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. NPPC strongly supports the Trump administration’s decision to replace the WOTUS rule and for its consideration of farmers concerns when developing the new rule.

 

EU-JAPAN TRADE AGREEMENT RATIFIED BY EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Union parliament this week approved the EU-Japan trade agreement. The agreement removes tariffs on 97 percent of European exports, with agriculture exports seeing significant tariff reductions. The pact will enter into force Feb. 1, 2019. In addition, the 11 nation CPTPP regional trade agreement will come into effect on December 30 with a second round of tariff cuts coming again on April 1, 2019. In 2016, Japanese consumers purchased almost $1.6 billion of U.S. pork products. With the CPTPP deal and the EU-Japan trade pact in place, U.S. pork is at risk of losing market share in one its largest export markets. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to expeditiously negotiate a trade agreement with Japan to avoid market share loss.

 

NPPC FILES COMMENTS ON EPA’S RULE EXEMPTING FARMS FROM REPORTING AIR EMISSIONS

NPPC today filed comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms. The rule is the final piece in the implementation of the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM, Act, which corrected a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The FARM exempted farmers from CERCLA; the proposed rule will exempt them from EPCRA.

 

POSSIBILITY REMAINS FOR U.S., UK TRADE AGREEMENT

British Prime Minister Theresa May, after coming under fire in recent weeks, survived a vote of no confidence this week, preserving the possibility for Britain to exit the European Union in 2019. NPPC supports U.S. negotiation of a free trade agreement with the UK following its breakup with the EU but only if it eliminates tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork exports.

 

KORUS EXPECTED TO ENTER INTO FORCE JAN. 1

Following this week’s approval by the South Korean National Assembly, the revised Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS) is expected to enter into force Jan. 1, 2019. The only remaining step before KORUS becomes effective is for President Trump to issue a proclamation that extends the phase-out period for the 25 percent U.S. tariffs on trucks until 2041. The agreement, which was finalized and signed earlier this year, was one of several trade agreements scrutinized by the president during his 2016 election campaign. NPPC was pleased with the outcome of the renegotiations as the new deal preserved existing benefits for agriculture. Most U.S. pork will continue to flow to South Korea with no tariff. Prior to KORUS, Korean duties on U.S. chilled and frozen pork were 22.5 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Last year, the United States shipped $475 million of pork to South Korea – a 30 percent increase over 2016 – making it the No. 5 U.S. pork export market.