For the Week Ending January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Washington, D.C., January 22, 2010 

GROUPS URGE SENATE VOTE ON USTR NOMINEES

An ad hoc coalition of food and agricultural organizations, led by NPPC, Thursday urged quick Senate confirmation of nominees for two key positions with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). In a letter signed by 42 organizations and delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the other 98 members of the Senate, the coalition asked that the Senate vote to approve Michael Punke as deputy U.S. trade representative based in Geneva, Switzerland, and Dr. Isi Siddiqui as chief agricultural negotiator for USTR. The Senate Finance Committee already has approved both nominees. Punke served as international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, followed by four years dealing with international affairs in the Clinton administration, including two years as senior policy adviser for then-USTR Ambassador Mickey Kantor. Siddiqui also served in the Clinton administration, working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as deputy undersecretary and as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs and as senior trade adviser to then-Sec. Dan Glickman. He also worked with USTR and represented USDA on bilateral, regional and multilateral agricultural trade negotiations. He served for 28 years with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Click the following link to read the letter: USTR Nominees Letter.

 

NPPC SIGNS LETTER OF DISSAPROVAL ON EPA RULES

NPPC Wednesday signed onto a letter supporting a Senate resolution of disapproval for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to move forward on regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is being backed by several Senate Democrats, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., who cited her concern about the burden that EPA regulation of carbon emissions, as well as the cap-and-trade climate change bills making their way through Congress, could put on the economy. She believes both will cost jobs. The resolution, which has 37 cosponsors, came in response to the December 2009 EPA finding that greenhouse gases qualify as dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, which triggered the EPA to require by March 2010 a move to begin regulating carbon emissions. To view the letter, click the following link: Letter to Sen. Murkowski.

 

NIFA SEEKS VETERINARY COLLEGE LOAN FEEBACK

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture Wednesday announced it is seeking public comments on information collected for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). The VMLRP is an educational loan repayment program created in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help qualified veterinarians repay the debt they acquired while earning a degree in veterinary medicine in return for their service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage situations. Comments are due by March 22. For more detailed information about the program and comment requirements, visit the following link: VMLRP Info.

 

HSUS GETS SOME BAD PRESS

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has recently come under fire from the Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA), which says that HSUS’s lobbying on national and state levels likely surpasses the boundaries set by its nonprofit status under the IRS code. SAOVA also cites a “conflict of interest” by Michael Markarian, who serves as HSUS’s chief operating officer as well as president of an affiliated lobbying charity, the Humane Society Legislative Fund. HSUS reported that it spent about $4.2 million on lobbying out of a total budget of nearly $100 million in 2008. The independent nonprofit charity watchdog group American Institute of Philanthropy in December gave HSUS a C- grade based on the percentage of money the organization spent actually running its programs. The group also penalized HSUS for paying excessive salaries to its top executive – as much as $250,000 – and for ending 2008 with cash reserves of $187 million in assets. Using HSUS’s 2008 federal 990 Form, another group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, found that HSUS took in more than $86 million; and spent $31 million on salaries, $24 million on fund raising, $23 million on “campaigns and legislation” and $4.2 million for a lockbox company to count its donations. Money given to organizations that actually worked with animals totaled just $450,000. That’s half of 1 percent.
WHAT’S AHEAD


NPPC, NATIONAL PORK BOARD ANNUAL FORUM MARCH 4-6

NPPC and the National Pork Board will hold their 2010 annual meeting March 4-6 in Kansas City, Mo. . 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.

 

FEDERAL NUTRITION PROGRAM REVIEW

The House Agriculture Committee’s Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry Subcommittee will hold a field hearing on “federal nutrition programs” on Jan. 25 at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif.