For the Week Ending July 20, 2018

July 20, 2018

HOUSE LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE NEW AG GUEST WORKER BILL

Bipartisan legislation, supported by NPPC, to replace the seasonal H-2A agricultural visa with a year-round agricultural guest worker visa was introduced this week in the U.S. House. NPPC and more than 200 other agricultural organizations support the “AG and Legal Workforce Act” (H.R. 6417), which is similar to legislation approved by the House Judiciary Committee last fall. The new bill is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., Michael Conaway, R-Texas, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, John Katko, R-N.Y., Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Mark Walker, R-N.C. The bill would allow 450,000 foreign workers under a new H-2C visa, including 40,000 for packing plants, to remain in United States for up to three years. The number of visas would automatically increase in any year the cap is reached. The bill also would require all U.S. employers to use the federal E-Verify program, a web-based system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the United States. The new visa would be under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture rather than the Labor Department.

 

HOUSE PASSES ADUFA AND AGDUFA PROGRAMS

The U.S. House this week passed by voice vote legislation reauthorizing the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA). The legislation authorizes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to collect from animal health companies fees for reviewing animal drug applications, thereby supplementing the agency’s budget for the rigorous appraisal of animal drugs. The measure, passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May, includes a new provision that expands FDA authority for conditional approval of new animal drugs, addressing serious and life-threatening unmet medical needs for major animal species. Conditional approval allows an animal drug to be available for use before all necessary data for approval is collected but after the drug is deemed effective and safe for use. The provision expands FDA’s authority to conditionally approve new animal drugs from minor use and minor species to major use and major species. With the laws set to expire Sept. 30, renewal of ADUFA and AGDUFA will avoid disruption in the availability of new animal drugs to the livestock production industry.

 

HOUSE MOVES FORWARD WITH 2018 FARM BILL PROCESS

The U.S. House this week moved to go to conference on the 2018 Farm Bill, naming 47 representatives to serve on the conference committee with the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named the representatives from nine committees with jurisdiction over the legislation. The committees include Agriculture; Education and Workforce; Energy and Commerce; Financial Services; Foreign Affairs; Oversight and Government Reform; Natural Resources; Science, Space and Technology; and Transportation and Infrastructure. In addition, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., delivered a motion instructing conferees to insist on 10-year permanent funding for animal disease preparedness and response programs. The motion passed with a vote of 392-20. The House Farm Bill has funding for such programs, but the Senate bill only has language authorizing appropriations. The Senate is expected to vote next week on moving to conference and naming participants.

SPRONK FEATURED AT FARM FOUNDATION EVENT ON GENE EDITING

Gene editing holds significant promise for U.S. agriculture and the U.S. pork industry if an effective and risk-based regulatory approach is taken, said NPPC Past President Randy Spronk this week at a Farm Foundation forum on the topic. Spronk joined fellow panelists Mitch Abrahamsen, executive vice president/chief commercial & scientific officer at Recombinetics; Karen Carr, partner at Arent Fox, LLP; and Kevin Diehl, leader of global regulatory seed platform at Corteva, to discuss technology and the opportunities it provides. NPPC is advocating for gene editing regulatory oversight to be moved from the FDA to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS, which already regulates gene editing in plants, can ensure proper and risk-based regulatory review under the Animal Health Protection Act. Regulation of gene editing in animals by the FDA as an “animal drug” is not appropriate or practicable.

 

NPPC SWINE VET PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCACY GROUP VISITS COLOMBIA

Twelve veterinarians who are members of NPPC’s Swine Veterinarian Public Policy Advocacy program this week traveled to Bogota, Colombia, to learn about the status of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in South America, including surveillance programs and the response capacity of the region. The information gathered supports NPPC advocacy efforts to secure mandatory funding for an FMD vaccine bank in the 2018 Farm Bill. NPPC’s Swine Veterinarian Public Policy Advocacy program is a year-long program consisting of three sessions focused on legislation, regulation and international trade. Graduates of the program then serve as experts representing the pork sectors interests in a variety of domestic and international forums. The third session of the program will take place in Washington, D.C., this September.

 

HEARING ON THE EFFECTS OF TARIFFS ON U.S. AGRICULTURE AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade held a hearing on Wednesday to explore the effects of tariffs on U.S. agriculture and rural communities. The witnesses representing a variety of farming sectors addressed the frustrations and hardships faced as a result of retaliatory tariffs and described the perfect storm of trade uncertainty, low farm incomes, a labor shortage and soon-to-expire Farm Bill. Witnesses acknowledged the importance of addressing China trade tactics while expressing the importance of mitigation from retaliatory tariffs to provide relief for rural America.

 

TRUMP ADVISER SUGGESTS THE EU IS WORKING ON A TRADE OFFER TO THE U.S.

President Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, this week indicated that EU officials are likely working on a trade offer to the United States. EU President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to be in Washington, D.C., next week to present the deal and participate in trade-related discussions. NPPC has insisted that any deal from the EU must provide market access for all sectors of the U.S. economy, with all tariff and non-tariff barriers being eliminated; partial market access is not enough. Expanding market access for U.S. products, including pork, is more important than ever, said NPPC, which supports talks to develop bilateral and multilateral trade deals.

 

MERCOSUR, EU TRADE DEAL PROGRESSING

Ministers from the South American Mercosur – currently a four-country trading bloc – this week held talks with EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström. The talks were designed to accelerate trade negotiation progress after talks stalled because of differences on cars, geographical indications, maritime services and agriculture. Following two days of intense talks, Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie indicated significant progress between the economic blocs and that an agreement can be expected by the end of the summer. NPPC continues to advocate for the expansion of export opportunities for U.S. pork.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

NPPC TO DISCUSS TARIFFS

Maria Zieba, NPPC’s director of international affairs, will be a panelist for the Heritage Foundation’s Trade Wars are Bad and America is Losing: Time to Ditch Section 232 Tariffs event. The event will be held on July 24 in Washington, D.C. Other panelists include John Gray, senior vice president of policy and economics with the Association of American Railroads and Aaron Padilla, senior advisor, international policy, with the American Petroleum Institute.

 

SENATE AG TO CONSIDER USDA, CFTC NOMINEES

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry next week will hold confirmation hearings on the nominations of James Hubbard as USDA undersecretary for natural resources and environment and Dan Berkovitz as Democrat commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Berkovitz likely would be paired with Republican CFTC nominee Dawn Stump for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. The hearing will be held on July 24 at 10 a.m.