For the Week Ending July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

Washington, July 24, 2009 

COALITION ASKS SPEAKER TO PRECLUDE ANTIBIOTICS AMENDMENT ON BILLS

A group of agricultural organizations, including NPPC, today urged the Speaker of the House not to allow a bill to ban certain animal health products to be tacked on to any pending legislation. The Coalition for Animal Health, which includes organizations that represent veterinarians, farmers and ranchers, food and feed producers and animal medicine manufacturers, in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked that the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009” (H.R. 1549) not be added to bills now being considered, including food-safety and health-care reform legislation. H.R. 1549 would ban from use in livestock and poultry animal health products that are used to prevent and control diseases. Farmers only would be allowed to use animal health products that treat diseases. The bill also would require all “critical antimicrobial animal drugs” to go through a second U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process within two years of enactment of the legislation. Currently to win approval, an animal drug maker must demonstrate that a product is effective and safe for animals and for the environment. FDA also must determine that new antibiotics for food animals will not harm human health. The legislation purports to address an increase in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans. But, the coalition pointed out, numerous risk assessments, including one conducted by FDA, have shown risk levels associated with antibiotic use in agriculture that are extremely low, and nationally recognized scientific studies have shown that the removal of important animal health products could actually increase food-safety risks. In its letter, the coalition also noted that the food-safety and health-care reform bills are based on the important principle of prevention. “It would be ironic and inconsistent to add an amendment that would remove important tools for disease prevention used in veterinary medicine,” said the coalition. “Veterinary medicine has long employed prevention as the preferred option for dealing with diseases, and antibiotics are an important tool in the prevention toolbox.”

 

‘BAIL OUT’ OF CANADIAN PORK INDUSTRY WOULD HURT U.S. PORK PRODUCERS

An emergency government subsidy program for the Canadian pork industry proposed by the Canadian Pork Council would have a “lethal impact” on U.S. pork producers, according to NPPC. The CPC has asked the Canadian government to pump $800 million into the country’s pork industry. The key component of the program is a loan to pork producers – to be repaid over 10-15 years – of $30 for each market hog. A second component would provide $500 for each sow culled plus the market value of the animal. The proposal would artificially prop up Canadian pork production and, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, U.S. live hog prices would be approximately 7 percent lower than otherwise would have been the case.

 

SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE HOLDS CLIMATE CHANGE HEARING

The Senate Agriculture Committee met Wednesday to address the role of agriculture in global warming. Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, noted that the cost of no action must become a central part of the ongoing climate change debate and that rushing through any kind of climate change legislation without careful debate would be detrimental. The committee’s ranking member, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., requested that committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, schedule more hearings on the topic. The House in June passed climate change legislation that NPPC anticipates will significantly increase energy prices and pork production costs. NPPC is working on a multi-year economic analysis of the costs to the pork industry of the House climate change bill. It is expected to be available before Congress returns from its August recess.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

 

FOOD-SAFETY LEGISLATION MAY BE ON THE HOUSE AGENDA BEFORE AUGUST RECESS

The House may take up food-safety legislation next week before lawmakers begins their August recess. NPPC has voiced concerns about provisions in a bill approved June 10 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would give authority to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct on-farm inspections, to quarantine geographic areas over food-safety problems and to create a “farm-to-fork” tracing system for food.

 

HEARING ON CHINESE POULTRY IMPORTS SCHEDULED

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies will hold a hearing July 28 to discuss the importation of Chinese poultry products. NPPC and a coalition of agriculture and business organizations recently urged the committee not to include in its fiscal 2010 agriculture spending bill language that bans Chinese poultry products from entering the United States. The House Appropriations Committee passed a fiscal 2010 agricultural appropriations bill that does just that. The House measure contains language – first put in the fiscal 2006 Agriculture Appropriation Act – that prohibits the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using any funds to establish or implement a rule allowing Chinese poultry products to be imported into the United States. Proponents of the ban cite concerns over the safety of Chinese poultry and the methodology used by USDA to determine if the imports are safe. China has used the ban as an excuse to restrict the importation of U.S. products, including pork.