For the Week Ending July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009

Washington, July 31, 2009 

FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION PASSED IN THE HOUSE

Yesterday the House passed food safety legislation that the National Pork Producers Council recognizes as much improved from the version that was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, H.R. 2749, would give the Food and Drug Administration the framework for a risk-based inspection system and move the agency toward a preventive approach to food safety regulation.  The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., would give the FDA new authorities to address food-borne-illness outbreaks and regulate processors’ record keeping in hopes of more easily identifying these outbreaks. NPPC was thankful that the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 (PAMTA), was not included in this food safety bill.  PAMTA would ban from use in livestock and poultry animal health products that are used to prevent and control diseases. NPPC supports language in the bill that recognizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authorities over products, facilities and farms raising animals from which meat and eggs are regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act or the Egg Products Inspection Act.  NPPC is also very supportive of the grains exemption which helps our diversified pork producers.  Other improvements to the bill relate to traceability of food and record-keeping. The measure also takes a more targeted approach for the new authority granted to the FDA to prohibit or restrict the movement of food.  While pork producers continue to suffer record losses, NPPC is committed to food safety and believes that the bill is a positive first step toward securing effective and meaningful food safety reform legislation.

 

VIETNAM BANS MOST PORK VARIETY MEATS

Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health (DAH) issued a ban on all pork variety meats except heart, livers and kidneys if their final destination is Vietnam.  The DAH cited the failure of imported food to meet food safety requirements, and improper labeling as the reasons for the ban.   This ban comes on the heels of increasing Vietnam press reports regarding the safety of imported food, particularly ‘expired product’ concerns. The Vietnamese government admits to a lack of resources and an inability to get government agencies to agree on food import policy.  Over the past year, NPPC has been actively engaged in providing information to Vietnam regarding the different maximum residue limits for variety meats.  The safety of U.S. pork is second to none in the world. NPPC will be working closely with the U.S. government and the Vietnamese government to get the ban lifted as soon as possible.

 

NPPC WORKING TO OPEN CHILE TO CHILLED U.S. PORK

NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Nick Giordano met this week in Chile with the Chilean pork industry association to discuss global pork trade issues and other issues of mutual interest. The two groups also discussed Chile’s requirement that imported U.S. chilled pork must be tested for trichinae. The Chilean group agreed that there is no basis in science for this requirement on U.S. pork and pledged to support U.S. efforts to correct the problem. Giordano held additional discussions with key Chilean government officials to address the trichinae issue.  Currently all U.S. pork exports to Chile must adhere to a freezing requirement as a risk mitigation for trichinae.  Due to strict biosecurity measures and modern pork production practices, there is negligible risk of trichinae in the U.S. commercial herd.   Thanks to the NPPC efforts, the U.S. and Chilean governments will now take up this issue during a September meeting in the United States.

 

NPPC SUPPORTS FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF NAFTA – JOINS ALLIANCE TO KEEP U.S. JOBS

Since 2007, NPPC has been leading an Ad Hoc coalition of business organizations concerned with Mexican retaliation on the U.S. not fulfilling its obligations on cross-border trucking.  In March 2009, the Mexican government retaliated against nearly 90 products with trade receipts totaling $2.4 billion annually. Due to NPPC’s outspoken efforts, pork was not on that list. The Ad Hoc coalition recently formed into the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs.  The Obama Administration is working on a proposal to ensure the United States fulfills its trade obligations with Mexico on trucking and maintains road safety.  NPPC is working to ensure continued market access in Mexico.  Mexico was the 3rd largest volume market for U.S. pork in 2008.

 

NPPC STAFF MEETS USDA SECRETARY VILSACK AND HHS SECRETARY SEBELIUS

NPPC staff today met USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in Eastern Market, Washington, D.C., at a press conference concerning the food safety bill that passed the House yesterday.  Other participants at the press conference included FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. and Deputy Under-Secretary for Food Safety Curt Mann.  The panel members discussed the joint efforts of both agencies in preventing food-borne illness outbreaks and made the announcement that the USDA would begin implementing routine checks of bench trim for E. coli.  Bench trim are the pieces left over from steaks and other cuts that are then used to make ground beef.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

 

HOUSE TAKES AUGUST RECESS

The House wrapped up its legislative business today before recessing for the month of August.  The full House is set to return on September 8.

 

SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Boxer D-Calif., will hold a hearing Monday August 6  on climate change and America’s role in clean energy.  On June 26 the House passed H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

 

SENATE SET TO VOTE ON AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

The Senate is set to vote on the Agriculture Appropriations bill Monday. The legislation cuts funds for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and it authorizes a Government Accountability Office study on the effects of banning horse slaughter.  The bill also includes $350,000 for a national trichinae certification program and $14.6 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Identification System.  House and Senate lawmakers will need to reconcile differences in their respective bills in a conference committee.