For the Week Ending February 28, 2020

February 17, 2020

U.S. PORK PRODUCERS REMAIN FOCUSED ON ASF PREVENTION
NPPC remains focused on African swine fever (ASF) prevention to ensure the U.S. swine herd remains safe. Speaking at a Farm Foundation press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, NPPC Director of Science and Technology Dr. Dan Kovich highlighted increased biosecurity efforts taken to date both on farms and at land, air and sea ports, and outlined the critical need for additional agricultural inspectors. “[U.S. Customs and Border Protection] are at the front lines at the borders, seaports and airports, checking people coming in to make sure that they’re not intentionally or unintentionally bringing in contraband product. We need to make sure we have enough inspectors and technicians, enough of the Beagle Brigade to be fully equipped. That will, of course, protect against all swine disease, livestock disease, plant disease and even promote public health,” he said. Congress recently approved legislation authorizing funding for 720 agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports, as well as 60 new agricultural canine teams, to prevent ASF and other foreign animal diseases from entering the country. NPPC looks forward to President Trump shortly signing this into law.

U.S. INCREASES PRESSURE ON EU TO EASE AG TRADE BARRIERS
European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan is hoping for a mini trade deal with the United States next month when he is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. Ahead of the trade talks, scheduled to begin on March 18, the Trump administration is increasing pressure on the EU to ease agricultural trade barriers. The EU maintains high levels of tariff protection on U.S. agriculture, as well as scientifically unjustifiable sanitary-phytosanitary and technical barriers to trade that make shipment of U.S. pork to the EU difficult, if not impossible. NPPC’s position is that all tariffs on U.S. pork should be eliminated and that all EU non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork should be eliminated.  As NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano explained to Politico this week, the EU has “perpetuated this myth that their standards are the highest in the world,” with dire consequences for U.S. sales to the region. As he noted, the U.S. is the largest pork exporter in the world, but shipped less pork to the 28 member-states of the EU in 2019 than it did to Honduras. 

U.S., UK TRADE REPS MEET AHEAD OF FORMAL TRADE NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer traveled to the UK and met Thursday with his British counterpart, Liz Truss, ahead of the formal start of a bilateral trade deal. However, before formal talks begin, the UK must first publish its negotiating mandate for the trade deal, expected next week. In October 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork. 

NPPC TRAVELS TO CHILE, GROWING U.S. PORK EXPORT MARKET
NPPC’s trade committee traveled last week to Santiago, Chile, to meet with Chilean government officials and Chilean pork industry representatives to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by both industries. Among other things, the U.S. and Chilean producers discussed the importance of keeping the Western Hemisphere free of African swine fever and challenges on accessing labor. Chile has been a growing export market for U.S. pork. Since the U.S.-Chile free trade agreement was implemented on Jan. 1, 2015, U.S. pork exports have increased by nearly 100 percent, with the country now the tenth-largest export market for U.S. producers.

NPPC HIGHLIGHTS ASF PREVENTION, TRADE PRIORITIES AT CERES EVENT
The Coalition for Epi Response, Engagement and Science (CERES) met in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss improved agricultural biosecurity protocols and responses to efficiently combat disease outbreaks. Speaking on a panel, NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba discussed opportunities and challenges facing the U.S. pork industry, including prevention of African swine fever, increased biosecurity protocols, international trade issues, acceptance of international, science-based standards and ensuring proper jurisdiction of gene-edited livestock.

USDA APPOINTS NEW FSIS ADMINISTRATOR
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has appointed Paul Kiecker as the administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), he announced Tuesday. He is replacing Carmen Rottenberg, who is departing the agency after two decades as a federal employee. Kiecker joined FSIS as a food inspector in 1988, and was named FSIS deputy administrator in May 2018. Among other issues, FSIS oversees the New Swine Inspection System, a voluntary program implemented last September that modernizes swine slaughter inspection.

WHAT’S AHEAD?

NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM NEXT WEEK
NPPC holds its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum, on March 4-6 in Kansas City, Mo. During the event, NPPC will elect new officers and members to its board of directors.