For the Week Ending January 10, 2020

January 10, 2020

NPPC: CALLING PLANT-BASED PRODUCTS PORK ‘BRAZEN ATTEMPT’ TO USURP LABELING LAWS
Impossible Foods’ naming convention for its plant-based products designed to mimic real pork is a brazen violation of labeling law, NPPC announced on Tuesday. “What’s impossible is to make pork from plants. This is a brazen attempt to circumvent decades of food labelling law and centuries of precedence. Any adjective placed in front of the word pork can only refine it, not redefine it. It’s not pork. It’s not pork sausage. It can’t be labelled as such,” said NPPC Director of Science and Technology Dr. Dan Kovich. He appeared in multiple media interviews this week, including this segment from RFD-TV. “It is actually impossible for something that does not come from a pig to be called pork. Pork comes from a pig. End of story. You can’t make pork from soybeans unless you feed them to a pig first,” he said. NPPC supports consumer choice and competitive markets on a level playing field. For more information, visit NPPC’s position paper here

SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES USMCA AGREEMENT
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement is one step closer to congressional ratification. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the much-needed trade agreement, which once implemented will provide much-needed certainty to U.S. pork producers. “We thank Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for making USMCA passage a top priority and we thank those members of the committee who support this important trade deal,” said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “USMCA will allow the U.S. pork industry to maintain long-term, zero-duty market access to two of our largest export markets.” In 2018, Canada and Mexico took over 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States and a similar percentage is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs. NPPC is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to schedule a floor vote as soon as possible. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the USMCA trade agreement late last month. Click here to read NPPC’s full statement. 

HOUSE APPROVES BILL TO CHANGE PFAS REGULATIONS
The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Friday morning that would change the way per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are regulated. The bill, H.R. 535 by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), was approved 247-159. The effort faces opposition from Republican senators and the White House, believing it would supersede existing statutory requirements that would prevent EPA from making proper decisions about the treatment of PFAS in the environment. Earlier this week, the White House issued a statement of administration policy, outlining its concerns with the legislation, noting that if the bill was presented to the president, his senior advisors would recommend a veto. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used by a variety of industries since 1940. Common applications of PFAS include water and stain repellant materials, as well as fast-acting firefighting products.

OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW INCLUDES FUNDING FOR MORE AGRICULTURAL INSPECTORS
In late December, President Trump signed into law a $1.4 trillion spending package that prevented a government shutdown and funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2020. As part of the funding, an additional $19.6 million was provided for more agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) from entering the United States. This funding, included in the fiscal year 2020 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, was a top priority for NPPC. Additionally, included in the fiscal year 2020 USDA appropriations bill was $20.8 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., a biocontainment laboratory for the study of diseases that threaten both America’s animal agricultural industry and public health, and $16.3 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which provides a framework for the coordination of federal and state animal disease diagnostic laboratory infrastructure, capabilities and capacities.

AGENCIES COLLABORATE ON EFFORTS TO MODERNIZE AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY REGULATION
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a collaborative tool for all three agencies to work on modernizing agricultural biotechnology regulation. The website streamlines information about the three regulatory agencies charged with overseeing agriculture biotechnology products and is part of President Trump’s June 2019 executive order on modernizing the regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology products. It describes the federal review process for certain biotechnology products and allows users to submit questions to the three agencies. NPPC is hopeful FDA’s participation in this collaborative tool unlocks the current stalemate over regulatory oversight on gene editing, technology that allows for precise, small changes to specific genes. 

NPPC ATTENDS CODEX TASK FORCE MEETING ON ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE
In mid-December, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom was part of a U.S. delegation to Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the Codex Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance was held. The task force is developing a Code of Practice to minimize the transmission of antimicrobial resistance through food. The task force is also working on a secondary document focusing on the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and use. The task force members made good progress on the Code of Practice document, with agreement that the focus needed to be on medically important antimicrobials. While there are still some unresolved issues, the majority of the Code of Practice will go to the Codex Commission in Rome in July 2020 for review. 

NPPC COMMENTS ON ANTIBIOTICS PROPOSAL
In mid-December, NPPC submitted comments to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Federal Register notice that outlined the agency’s intention to move all medically important antibiotics delivered via methods other than feed or water to a prescription status. In its comments, NPPC noted that this move would disproportionately impact small producers and those in remote areas, and urged FDA to consider methods to address those impacts. A copy of NPPC’s comments is available here.