For the Week Ending February 15, 2019

February 15, 2019

CONGRESS PASSES, PRESIDENT SIGNS SPENDING BILL

Congress on Thursday passed a massive spending deal just ahead of Friday’s government shutdown deadline. The bill, which the president signed into law on Friday, directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to formalize a joint framework for regulating cell-based protein production within 60 days of enactment of the funding measure. NPPC strongly supports USDA regulatory oversight of laboratory-produced cultured protein (L-PCP). The organization wants L-PCP to be inspected—and have any label claims approved—by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. FSIS has the expertise and capability to provide continuous inspection to facilities producing L-PCP and to make sure that the product names and label claims are transparent, fact-based and appropriate. Additionally, the spending bill renewed Congress’ exemption for livestock haulers from the requirement to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their trucks. As part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act mandated that drivers of commercial motor vehicles replace by Dec. 18, 2017, their paper logs with ELDs, which record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. NPPC requested – and secured– on behalf of the U.S. pork industry and other livestock sectors an initial waiver from the regulation, citing the incompatibility between transporting livestock and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service rules. Those regulations 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 non-driving time.

 

SENATE CONFIRMS BARR FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed William Barr as U.S. attorney general on a 54-45 vote. Barr previously served as attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. He takes over from acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions late last year.

 

U.S. OFFICIALS IN CHINA, REMOVAL OF METAL TARIFFS REMAINS A PRIORITY

U.S. trade officials are in China this week to discuss the countries’ continuing trade dispute. President Trump set a March 1 deadline for resolving the trade issues; if they aren’t resolved, he will more than double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. NPPC continues to ask the Trump administration to resolve the dispute with China in addition to dropping U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico so that country will rescind its duty on U.S. pork. Mexico’s 20 percent punitive tariff on U.S. pork has inflicted severe financial harm on America’s pork producers. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Mexican tariff is costing producers $12 per animal, meaning industrywide losses of $1.5 billion annually. NPPC is asking for the tariffs to be dropped so that undivided attention can be turned to generating congressional support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, negotiations on which were concluded last fall.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

EPA TO HOLD HEARING ON PROPOSED ‘WOTUS’ RULE

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced it will hold a public hearing on the agency’s proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The hearing will take place in Kansas City, Kan., Feb. 27-28. The proposed regulation would replace the 2015 Obama-era WOTUS rule, which substantially increased EPA’s authority over various waters and lands adjacent to them, including farm fields and ditches. The 60-day public comment period for the proposed rule is now open. Comments, which are due April 15, may be submitted here.

 

2019 NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM APPROACHING

The National Pork Industry Forum – NPPC’s annual business meeting – will be held in Orlando, Fla., March 6-8. During the event, NPPC will elect new officers and members to its board of directors.