For the Week Ending February 2, 2018

February 2, 2018

‘WOTUS’ RULE IMPLEMENTATION DELAYED UNTIL 2020

The White House Office of Management and Budget this week completed its review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule to delay for two years implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The controversial Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation, which took effect in August 2015, gave the government broad control over waters, including 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. NPPC and other organizations challenged the rule in U.S. District Courts around the country, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit, which consolidate the District Court case under its jurisdiction, put a hold on the regulation in the fall of 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court last week, however, ruled that the Sixth Circuit doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear such CWA cases. The EPA now is reviewing comments on a proposal to rescind the 2015 rule and is developing a proposal for a new definition of “waters of the United States.” The Trump administration expects that a new version of the WOTUS rule will be in place long before the 2020 implementation deadline.

 

COURT AGAIN DELAYS EMISSIONS REPORTING DEADLINE FOR LIVESTOCK FARMERS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Thursday granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion for another extension of a farm emissions reporting deadline. NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association Monday filed a brief in support of the agency’s request that the court give farms a delay in reporting air emissions from animal waste to May 1 from Jan. 22. (The court previously extended the deadline to Jan. 22 from Nov. 15.) EPA’s request came after a letter was sent by 10 Democrat senators to the agency stressing the need to provide farmers more time to sufficiently acquaint themselves with the new reporting requirements. In April 2017, the appeals court 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 is a law that provides federal funding for cleaning contaminant spills and uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, while EPCRA requires entities to provide reports on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. Prior to the April decision, all farms were exempt from reporting emissions under CERCLA, and only concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) were required to report under EPCRA. NPPC, along with other organizations, has been urging the EPA to issue clarifying guidance to farmers for complying with the new reporting mandate.

 

COURT STOPS PAYMENTS FOR ‘PORK. THE OTHER WHITE MEAT’ SALE

A U.S. District Court yesterday stopped payments from the National Pork Board to NPPC for the Pork Board’s purchase of the Pork. The Other White Meat® trademarks. The Humane Society of the United States, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and an Iowa pork producer in 2012 sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Pork Checkoff administered by the Pork Board, to overturn the purchase, claiming, among other things, that the trademarks were overvalued. A 2016 analyses by USDA found the value of the trademarks to be between $113 million and $132 million. NPPC sold the trademarks to the Pork Board in 2006 for about $35 million in a seller financed agreement. Click here to read NPPC’s statement on the court’s decision.

 

HOLD ON CHIEF AGRICULTURAL NEGOTIATOR NOMINEE LIFTED

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., this week released his hold on the nomination of Gregory Doud to be President Trump’s chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In November, Flake placed the hold in response to the Trump administration’s proposal to impose trade remedy laws against imported goods from Mexico, an effort intended to protect certain U.S. agricultural produce from cheaper imports from Mexico. Flake argued that the proposal would decrease consumer choice, leading to higher prices for produce. The decision to lift the hold came after Flake secured a written commitment from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah,, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, that his concerns would be addressed. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also expressed his willingness to consider Flake’s concerns. Doud has served in a number of capacities related to domestic and international trade policy, working at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Wheat Associates, the Commodity Markets Council and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. NPPC strongly supports Doud’s nomination, which still must be considered by the Senate.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP DELIVERS STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

In his first State of the Union address, President Trump on Tuesday reflected on his administration’s passage of tax reform and efforts to cut regulations and called on Congress to approve $1.5 billion for infrastructure projects. The president also mentioned international trade, stressing his administration’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal. We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones,” he said. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., along with 35 of his Republican Senate colleagues submitted a letter to Trump ahead of his address, emphasizing the importance of preserving NAFTA. NPPC has been urging the Trump administration to maintain zero-duty market access for U.S. pork exports to Mexico and Canada. Losing those NAFTA markets would cost the pork industry $1.5 billion. In his remarks, the president also called for bipartisan cooperation on immigration reform, outlining a plan that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the United States as children, funding for border security and the need to establish a merit-based immigration system.

 

HOGS ON THE HILL BLOG HIGHLIGHTS PORK INDUSTRY ISSUES

NPPC recently relaunched its Hogs on the Hill blog. Billed as “the voice of the U.S. pork industry, with a swine’s eye view of the world,” the blog gives readers information on matters coming out of Congress, the executive branch and even state capitals that affect pork producers. The latest Hogs on the Hill blog post on a potential meat tax can be viewed here.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

NPPC TO TESTIFY ON FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES

Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, next Wednesday will testify on behalf NPPC about the effects on livestock farmers of federal environmental policies, including the air emissions reporting mandate that recently was applied to them. A federal court last April threw out an exemption for farmers from a hazardous pollutant cleanup and reporting law. Hill, who is a past president of NPPC, will testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

 

STATE PORK ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETINGS ROLL ON

Throughout February, many state pork associations will host their annual meetings. For more on the meetings, visit NPPC’s website here.

 

U.S. AG CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE DUE FEB. 5

Reminder to complete by Feb. 5 the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which was distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The Census survey can be returned by mail or can be completed online here. Completing the online survey requires a 17-digit code, which can be found on the address label on the paper questionnaire or letter you received in the mail.