For the Week Ending February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

Washington, D.C., February 26, 2010 

GIPSA TO SWINE GROWERS: CONTRACTS MUST COMPLY WITH FARM BILL REQUIREMENTS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday issued a press release announcing that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is increasing its audits of swine production contracts to ensure their compliance with 2008 Farm Bill requirements. The 2008 Farm Bill amended the Packers and Stockyard Act to require that swine contracts: allow swine growers to cancel growing or production contracts for up to three days after signing or up to any date specified in the contract or growing arrangement; include a disclosure statement on the first page that clearly states whether additional large capital investments may be required of the grower during the term of the contract; and allow growers to opt out of arbitration provisions before entering a contract. GIPSA is seeking civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation if swine contractors have not complied with Farm Bill requirements. Two pork operations have been fined so far. GIPSA says that the requirements became effective when the Farm Bill was signed into law in June 2008, but the agency never issued guidance on them to producers. Other provisions of the Farm Bill also are still awaiting implementing regulations. Producers should consult with their attorney on contract matters.

LAWMAKERS URGE ADMINISTRATION TO PRESS CHINA TO OPEN ITS MARKET TO U.S. PORK

In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, 22 senators urged them to do “everything within your means” to get China to reopen its market to U.S. pork imports. China in late April banned the importation of U.S. pork, citing concerns over the H1N1 flu outbreak. Several months ago, China announced that it would lift the ban, but the market has yet to be re-opened. In a separate letter to Ambassador Kirk sent the same day as the Senate letter, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., also asked that China be pressed to reopen its market to U.S. pork. “We must do everything possible to ensure the commitment to reopen China’s market is fully honored,” said Skelton. NPPC has been urging the Obama administration to pressure China to reopen its market. China purchased more than $334 million – $690 million if Hong Kong is included – of U.S. pork in 2008. But because of the H1N1 ban, pork exports to the Asian country fell by 61 percent in 2009.

EPA MAY REQUIRE CAFOS TO REPORT HYDROGEN SULFIDE EMISSIONS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an announcement published today in the Federal Register said it is considering requiring industrial facilities, including concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), to report releases of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The agency says that H2S is harmful to human health and the environment and must be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The reporting requirement could lead to stricter regulations on H2S releases under the Clean Air Act, including a mandate that facilities adopt new emissions mitigation technologies. NPPC has challenged in a suit filed in a U.S. District Court in Wisconsin an EPA rule requiring some pork producers to report air emissions from their farms under EPCRA, which has an exemption for “agriculture.” NPPC contends that EPA has failed to set up an adequate system to take emissions reports from producers. The pork industry also is waiting for the results of a National Air Emissions Monitoring study of emissions from farms.

NPPC CO-HOSTS CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON ANTIBIOTICS USE IN LIVESTOCK

NPPC joined other livestock and poultry groups in hosting educational briefings on Capitol Hill to share the facts about the importance of tools such as antibiotics in raising healthy food animals. The briefings were held in cooperation with U.S. Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, David Scott, D-Ga., Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, Zack Space, D-Ohio, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Top livestock and poultry health experts from across the country, including NPPC member Dr. Craig Rowles, of Carroll, Iowa, presented information to congressional staffers on how farmers and ranchers utilize antibiotics to produce healthy animals. The panel discussed the significance of antibiotics in animal agriculture to maintain a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply. Veterinarians on the panel explained why antibiotic usage is necessary as part of their ethical responsibility to treat sick animals. After the briefings, NPPC along with the other hosts issued a joint press release that can be viewed by visiting NPPC co-hosts briefing. [[[[[pdf]]]]

 

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEARING REVIEWS OBAMA’S 2011 BUDGET

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday during a hearing to review the President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget. At the hearing, subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said she wants to increase federal investment in agriculture programs beyond the administration’s budget blueprint. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., applauded Sec. Vilsack for getting out in the field to gather input from producers on animal traceability. She and DeLauro outlined their concerns with a national animal ID system, including possible state and federal government overlap and the lack of progress on completing the system, for which USDA has requested $14.3 million in additional funds. (USDA recently announced a new “framework” for animal traceability, which allows states to implement and administer ID systems.) NPPC supports a mandatory national animal ID system. The U.S. pork industry in 1988 established its own swine ID system and has since greatly enhanced it, making it consistent with USDA’s National Animal Identification System. Food safety was discussed, with a focus on USDA’s work to ensure that beef entering the nation’s school systems is safe to eat. Vilsack said USDA is looking at the school feeding program. The National Academies of Sciences is conducting an in-depth review of USDA’s ground beef testing procedures, while USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is reviewing the Agriculture Marketing Service’s purchasing procedures. To read Sec. Vilsack’s statement before the subcommittee, click the following link: USDA Sec. Vilsack’s statement.

 

VILSACK OUTLINES GOALS FOR CHILD NUTRITION ACT REAUTHORIZATION

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, addressing an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, laid out the Obama administration’s priorities for pending reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. Focusing on childhood obesity, hunger and access to nutritional foods, Vilsack said that expanding the existing authority of the Child and Adult Care Food Program to provide after-school meals to at-risk children in all 50 states is at the top the administration’s list. Another top priority of the administration is to increase the reimbursement rate for the National School Lunch Program so that schools can serve more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat and fat-free dairy products. Vilsack mentioned in his address that he would like purchasing requirements made for beef suppliers and plans to launch a review by the National Academies of Science of the entire ground beef purchasing program. The Child Nutrition Act was enacted under President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 and requires reauthorization every five years. Congress is expected to reauthorize the bill this spring.

 

NPPC UPDATES ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

Media updates from NPPC are available on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are networking sites used to interact with readers and update viewers on industry news and events. Become a fan of NPPC on Facebook, or follow NPPC on Twitter to receive up-to-date information.

WHAT’S AHEAD
COMMODITY EXCHANGE HEARING

The General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee will host a hearing March 3 on implementation of changes contained in the 2008 Farm Bill to the Commodity Exchange Act .

 

HOUSE AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS HEARING

The House Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing March 4 on the President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2011 appropriations for programs and activities under its jurisdiction, including the Child Nutrition program.

 

ACTION ON AGRICULTURE SALES TO CUBA, AG CREDIT BILL

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing March 11 to review current policy concerning U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba. The committee also next week will hold a mark-up on H.R. 3509, a bill to reauthorize state agriculture mediation programs under Title V of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987.

 

NPPC, NATIONAL PORK BOARD ANNUAL FORUM MARCH 4-6

NPPC and the National Pork Board will hold their 2010 annual meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – March 4-6 in Kansas City, Mo. You can follow the action from Forum on NPPC on Twitter. For more information on the meeting, call (515) 278-8012. Media inquiries should be directed to Dave Warner at (202) 347-3600; for media registration, visit 2010 National Pork Forum.

 

NPPC WORLD PORK EXPO JUNE 9-11

NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo will be held June 9-11 at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. Follow @NPPCWPX on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NPPCWPX for coming announcements and updates on the largest pork industry trade show and exhibition in the world.