For the Week Ending February 3, 2017
February 3, 2017
NPPC HAILS TRUMP U.K. TRADE ANNOUNCEMENT
The Trump administration last weekend announced it would pursue closer trade relations with the United Kingdom, news welcomed by NPPC, which urged the administration to begin talks as soon as possible. Meeting last week at the White House, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May said the two countries would hold preliminary talks on a trade deal, which can’t be finalized until the U.K. leaves the European Union. (The U.K. in June 2016 voted to get out of the economic bloc, which was formed after World War II to promote economic growth and to avoid conflict among the 28 member countries.) Trump and May agreed to set up a working groups to consider ways to improve trade between the countries before the United Kingdom, which consists of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, exits the EU. The so-called Brexit process may take up to two years. At a press conference last week with the president, May said the countries will work to “lay the groundwork for a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement and identify the practical steps we can take now in order to enable companies in both countries to trade and do business with one another more easily.” Given its desire to negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K., it is unclear if the Trump administration will continue trade talks with the EU through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Those negotiations have been limping along nearly since the TTIP was initiated in 2013. Although NPPC had been supportive of the TTIP, it was skeptical that U.S. hog farmers – or any other farmers – would get a good deal out of the agreement given the EU’s intransigence on eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers on agricultural products, including pork.
TRUMP SIGNS SECOND EXECUTIVE ORDER ON REGULATIONS
President Trump this week signed an executive order requiring that for every new regulation finalized, two must be rescinded. The executive order tasks agencies to identify at least two current regulations that can be repealed for each new regulation proposed. The order also says that the net incremental cost of regulations for fiscal year 2017 should be no greater than zero – meaning the cost of new rules should be offset by existing rules that would be rescinded. House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the order in a statement Monday afternoon. “The explosion of federal regulations has hamstrung small business growth and crippled our economy. President Trump’s executive order helps bring the nation’s regulatory regime into the 21st century by putting regulators on a budget, and addressing the costs agencies impose each year,” he said. It was the second executive order on regulations; the first put a 60-day freeze on regulations issued by the Obama administration still in the rulemaking process.
BILL INTRODUCED TO CLARIFY WASTE LAW DOESN’T COVER NUTRIENT APPLICATION
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., this week introduced legislation to clarify congressional intent on applying the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 to agricultural activities. RCRA deals with the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste; it does not cover agriculture, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RCRA regulations state that the statute doesn’t apply to agricultural waste, “including manure and crop residue, returned to the soil as fertilizers or soil conditioners.” But some courts have allowed citizen lawsuits against farmers over application to cropland of manure. The “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act,” which NPPC supports, would:
- Reaffirm and clarify congressional intent that RCRA should not cover agricultural byproducts.
- Codify EPA regulations on the treatment of agricultural byproducts under RCRA.
- Prevent farmers who are engaged in legal action or making an attempt to work with the state or federal government to address nutrient management issues from being targeted by citizen suits.
Newhouse sponsored similar legislation in the last Congress.
HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REVIEWS POTENTIAL U.S.-U.K. TRADE DEAL
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Wednesday held a hearing to explore a potential free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. Members of the committee, including Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, expressed optimism for getting a bilateral deal between the two nations. “Great Britain is one of our oldest and strongest allies. We now have the opportunity to negotiate a deal that not only should represent a gold standard when it comes to trade deals but also deepen our alliance even further,” he said. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade agreed. “A strong Britain means a strong ally for America, and the fate of our two countries are deeply connected. A bilateral free trade agreement is in our mutual interest, and negotiations should begin as soon as practical,” he said. While an agreement couldn’t be finalized until the U.K. exits the European Union – and process that could take up to two years – NPPC is pleased that negotiating a deal is a priority of the Trump administration.
PRUITT CLEARS EPW COMMITTEE DESPITE DEMOCRATS’ BOYCOTT
Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee used their majority status this week to suspend Senate rules and advance the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats on the committee refused for the second day in a row to show up in protest, however, Pruitt was confirmed on an 11-0 vote. “Elections have consequences, and a new president is entitled to put in place people who will advance his agenda,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the EPW committee. “We took this extraordinary step because the minority members of the committee took the extraordinary step of boycotting.” Pruitt will next face confirmation from the full Senate.
TRUMP NOMINATES GORSUCH TO SUPREME COURT
President Trump this week nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, who now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, to the U.S. Supreme Court. At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest nominee to the high court in 25 years. A Colorado native, Gorsuch was in the same class at Harvard Law School as former President Barack Obama. He holds a doctorate from Oxford University and was law clerk to Supreme Court Justices Byron R. White and Anthony Kennedy. “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support,” President Trump said Tuesday from the White House. “It is an extraordinary résumé — as good as it gets.” If approved, Gorsuch will fill a Supreme Court seat left vacant 11 months ago by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.
NPPC THANKS LAWMAKERS FOR ‘DEATH’ TAX REPEAL LEGISLATION
NPPC, as part of the Federal Business Estate Tax Coalition, this week thanked congressional lawmakers for their efforts to support America’s family-owned businesses and farms by permanently repealing the federal estate tax. “The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017,” sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. and Reps. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., was introduced last week. The estate tax is levied on the net value – less an exemption – of an owner’s assets transferred at death to an heir or heirs. For the 2016 tax year, the exemptions for the estate tax is $5.45 million for an individual and $10.9 million for couples. Transferred estates valued at more than those figures are subject to a maximum tax rate of 40 percent on the amount of assets above those levels. According to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, for every $1 of tax revenue raised from the estate tax, which accounts for less than 1 percent of federal revenues, $1 is wasted in compliance and tax planning costs. A 2015 study from the Tax Foundation found that repealing the estate tax would “gradually increase U.S. capital stock by 2.2 percent, boost GDP, create 139,000 jobs and eventually increase federal revenue.” Click here to read NPPC’s letters of support.
MOST TRUMP CABINET NOMINEES STILL AWAITING SENATE CONFIRMATION
Athough a number of President Trump’s cabinet nominees have been approved by their appropriate Senate committees, only Education secretary candidate Betsy DeVos is scheduled for a full Senate vote next week. Cleared by committee but still awaiting Senate confirmation are Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Linda McMahon for administrator of the Small Business Administration, Steve Mnuchin as secretary of the Treasury, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., as director of the Office of Management and Budget, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for secretary of Energy, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., for secretary of Health and Human Services, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, businessman Wilbur Ross as secretary of Commerce and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., as secretary of the Interior. Already confirmed are former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, Elaine Chao for secretary of Transportation, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., for director of the CIA, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly as secretary of Homeland Security.