For the Week Ending January 18, 2019
January 18, 2019
NPPC URGES ADMINISTRATION TO ELIMINATE RESTRICTIONS ON PORK IN DEAL WITH UK
In comments submitted Tuesday to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, NPPC told the Trump administration that it’s critically important that the United States use trade negotiations with the United Kingdom to ensure that U.S. pork products enter the U.K. duty free and not subject to the many European Union sanitary phytosanitary (SPS) measures that currently restrict U.S. exports to the UK. NPPC pointed out that it is among many U.S. agricultural producer and trade groups that would be unable to support a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom that fails to remove regulatory barriers to agricultural imports. In addition to eliminating SPS barriers, the organization said the U.K. should recognize the equivalence of U.K. and U.S. production practices for pork and accept pork from all USDA-approved facilities.
MAY’S ‘BREXIT’ PLAN FAILS, CREATES UNCERTAINTY U.S.-UK TRADE DEAL
United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for getting the U.K. out of the European Union was overwhelmingly defeated in Parliament this week. (The so-called Brexit plan lost on a 432-202 vote by the House of Commons, and May survived a subsequent vote of no confidence.) While the exit plan would have eased the U.K.’s transition from the EU, it called for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to continue abiding by EU regulations, including, for example, sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) measures that have limited U.S. meat exports to the 28-member countries of the EU. That would have made negotiating a U.S.-U.K. trade deal extremely difficult. NPPC has been urging the Trump administration to insist on elimination of SPS restrictions on U.S. pork in trade talks with the U.K. and with the EU. (The administration two years ago agreed to set up a U.S.-U.K. working group to consider ways to improve trade between the countries and to lay the groundwork for future trade negotiations.) With the defeat of May’s plan, some British lawmakers are scrambling to come up with a Plan B, while others are pushing for a no-plan exit. The Article 50 deadline is March 29 but an extension remains a possibility. To read NPPC’s comments, click here.
REPORT CALLS FOR DRASTIC REDUCTIONS IN MEAT CONSUMPTION
NPPC voiced its criticism of a report issued Wednesday calling for drastic cuts in meat, dairy and egg consumption to promote a healthier diet and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While two of the report’s noted concerns were sustainability and undernutrition, its recommendations would be counterproductive to both, said NPPC. In a press release, the organization pointed out that there is scientific evidence supporting the nutritive value of meat, including pork. It also noted the efforts of the U.S. pork industry over the past nearly six decades to be more sustainable. The report was released by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health. “To address sustainability and undernourishment,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, “maybe the report’s authors should call on the European Union to drop its Draconian ‘precautionary principle’ that all-but prevents the use of new technologies and modern production practices. It’s those kinds of restrictions that are forcing farmers around the world to forego using scientifically proved technologies that produce more food and in a more environmentally friendly way.” (Read NPPC’s press release here.)
EU DETERMINED TO KEEP AGRICULTURE OUT OF TRADE TALKS
On the heels of the fallacy-laden EAT-Lancet report, the European Commission today issued draft negotiating mandates to EU member states that doesn’t include talks on agriculture. NPPC said it cannot support a trade agreement between the United States and the European Union that does not include agriculture. “We are infuriated,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “The EU is one of the most protected markets in the world for a lot of agricultural products, including pork. We are pleased that the Trump administration has been resolute in its demand that agriculture be included in the talks.” (Read NPPC’s press release here.)
NPPC ADDRESSES KEY USDA OPERATIONS
NPPC issued a press release today addressing the status of critical USDA functions during the federal government shutdown. Federal meat inspection has been deemed essential and continues. NPPC is thankful for the inspectors who are performing a job that ensures for American consumers the safety of our food supply. Also continuing to operate during the shutdown are USDA Market News Service staff who produce the twice-daily livestock mandatory price reports, which are the sole source of market information on sales to packers of cattle, hogs and lambs and on the subsequent sale of meat products. (Read NPPC’s press release here.)
HOGS ON THE HILL ADDRESSES GOVERNMENT PORK BUY FROM JBS
The latest Hogs on the Hill (HOTH) blog post, which can be viewed here, addresses a misinformed Washington Post article titled “Trump farm bailout money will go to Brazilian-owned meatpacking firm, USDA says.” HOTH takes issue with the paper’s characterization of USDA’s purchases of pork as bailouts and with its criticism of meatpacker JBS. Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases various food commodities for food assistance programs. These purchases benefit U.S. meatpackers, producers and individuals using federal food assistance programs. The ongoing purchase is part of the Trump administration’s effort to provide financial relief to pork producers suffering from ongoing trade disputes. HOTH is concerned that the Post’s criticism of JBS, which employs thousands of American workers in its U.S. packing plants, will dissuade other companies from participating in the purchase program, thereby decreasing suppliers and raising the government’s costs, all to the detriment of farmers and people who rely on USDA’s food programs.
FSA OFFICES TO REOPEN
While they weren’t funded because of the government shutdown, select Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices were open yesterday and today and will be open Tuesday, Jan. 22. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recalled 2,500 FSA employees to assist farmers during the shutdown. Click here for a list of open offices.
PANEL TO DISCUSS METALS TARIFFS, USMCA
The Global Business Dialogue on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, will host “A North American Checklist: The Metal Tariffs and The USMCA.” The event, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and feature speakers from a variety of industries.
2019 NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM APPROACHING
The National Pork Industry Forum – NPPC annual business meeting – will be in held in Orlando, Fla., from March 6-8. During the event, NPPC will elect new officers and members to its board of directors.