For the Week Ending July 12, 2019

July 12, 2019


SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO ADD AGRICULTURAL INSPECTORS 
On Thursday, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced legislation, Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019, which would ensure the safe and secure trade of agricultural goods across our nation’s borders by authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire additional agricultural inspectors to fully staff America’s airports, seaports and land ports of entry. NPPC has been advocating for an increase in ag inspectors since its spring Legislative Action Conference in early April. In a press release announcing the bill, NPPC President David Herring said, “Preventing the spread of African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases to the United States is our top priority. We appreciate all that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are doing to strengthen biosecurity at our borders. To further safeguard American agriculture, we need additional agriculture inspectors at our sea and airports. This essential legislation will help address the current inspection shortfall, reduce the risk of ASF and other foreign animal diseases, and protect the food supply for U.S. consumers,” he added. To view a full copy of the press release, click here.


LAWMAKERS URGE CPB TO PRIORITIZE IMPORTED AG GOOD INSPECTIONS TO PREVENT ASF OUTBREAK
In a letter sent Wednesday to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, Reps. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) and James Baird (R-Ind.) urged the agency to prioritize inspections and screening of imported agricultural goods, and to not divert resources that are greatly needed to prevent an outbreak in African swine fever (ASF) in domestic swine herds. NPPC was quoted in a Thursday press release issued by the lawmakers accompanying the letter. “An outbreak of African swine fever in the United States, a development that would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, would be catastrophic for the nation’s swine herd, hog farmers and their families, and the rural economy,” said Dale Reicks, a pork producer from Lawler, Iowa, and member of NPPC’s board of directors. “With no vaccine to contain and eradicate the disease – not to mention the long and costly recovery period that would follow an outbreak – prevention is our only defense and it begins with biosecurity at our borders. We appreciate all that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has done to respond to heightened ASF risk and urge them to continue bolstering agricultural inspections at our sea, land and airports.” To view the letter and accompanying press release, click here.


NEW SWINE INSPECTION SYSTEM FINAL RULE SENT TO OMB
USDA’s final rule on its New Swine Inspection Service (NSIS) was sent Wednesday to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review. The rule is part of a continuous effort by the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure a safe supply of wholesome American pork. A voluntary program supported by many years of research, NSIS aims to improve the inspection process by shifting FSIS employees’ responsibilities to focus on inspection duties more directly related to food safety and animal welfare (like plant sanitation and humane handling). In turn, pre-inspection sorting and quality control tasks would be delegated to plant employees on the line. Final inspection accountability and authority remains with the USDA. NPPC has strongly supported USDA’s proposed rule, which will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process, allow for the rapid adoption of new food-safety technologies in pork slaughter, and has the potential to increase U.S. harvest capacity. 


WHITE HOUSE WILL AWAIT GREEN LIGHT FROM PELOSI BEFORE SUBMITTING USMCA TEXT
On Tuesday, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said the administration won’t submit the formal text of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement for Congressional approval until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) approves of a vote. “I remain optimistic that she [Pelosi] will provide a vote. It will happen sometime this summer, hopefully. It could stretch on to the autumn, but I think it will be sooner than that. It’s up to her, not me,” Kudlow told CNBC Tuesday. On Wednesday, CNBC reported that the White House plans to send the official text to Congress after Sept. 1. NPPC continues to urge ratification of USMCA, preserving zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term. NPPC will closely monitor congressional votes on USMCA and continues to urge the administration to complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China, where U.S. pork has a historic opportunity to dramatically expand exports given the countries struggle with African swine fever. 


NPPC ATTENDS 42nd CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION MEETING 
NPPC this week attended the 42nd Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in Geneva, Switzerland,
to represent U.S. pork’s priorities and positions. Codex Alimentarius, the international food-safety standards-setting organization, held its annual meeting to continue the implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) joint food program. With over 600 delegates in attendance, participants worked together to contribute to the standard-setting process in a spirit of openness, collaboration, and transparency. Side events of interest included the current FAO/WHO capacity building activities, and a session on the burden of foodborne diseases. The 43rd CAC Meeting is scheduled for July 2020 in Rome. 


UK TRADE OFFICIAL MEETS WITH WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS 
U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox and U.S. officials met this week in Washington, D.C., discussing the need for a trade deal between the two countries once the U.K. leaves the European Union. Among others, Fox met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Ivanka Trump. In October 2018, the White House announced its intention to negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork and embrace Codex and other international production standards.


MERCOSUR IN TALKS ON NEW TRADE AGREEMENTS
The Mercosur trade bloc, which currently groups together Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, is in talks with Canada, South Korea and other countries on new trade agreements, a Brazil trade official recently said. This follows completion of a similar agreement in late June with the European Union, which saw lower tariffs on a slew of agricultural commodities, including pork.