For the Week Ending March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

NPPC SUPPORTS MODERNIZING AGRICULTURAL TRANSPORTATION ACT

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., this week reintroduced bipartisan legislation strongly supported by NPPC to reform U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations. The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act would establish a working group at DOT to identify barriers to the transportation of agricultural commodities, including pigs, posed by these devices. Within one year, the group would deliver an action plan for reforms that support the continued safe, humane transportation of agricultural commodities. The proposed working group would be comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the transportation secretary must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, based on the group’s findings and recommendations. As DOT works to reform the HOS rules, Congress has provided an exemption for livestock haulers from the ELD requirements.

 

COALITION LAUNCHED TO LOBBY FOR USMCA

NPPC joined a coalition of 200 leading trade associations and businesses this week to lobby Congress for the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Before USMCA ratification can take place, however, U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel imports must be lifted. The Trump administration on June 1, 2018, imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent duty on aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico (and other nations). Both countries subsequently retaliated against a host of U.S. products. Farmers and food companies have been particularly hard hit by the Canadian and Mexican retaliation. Mexico’s 20 percent punitive tariff on U.S. pork, has inflicted severe financial harm on America’s pork producers. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Mexican tariff is costing producers $12 per animal, meaning industrywide losses of $1.5 billion annually. Additionally, this week NPPC’s Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel, global government affairs, sat down for a radio interview with (Mike) Adams on Agriculture to provide U.S. pork’s perspective on current trade disputes. For the full interview, click here.

 

U.S. HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE ADDRESSES U.S., CHINA TRADE

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means this week held a hearing to address the current status of U.S. trade, specifically with China. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer provided testimony during the hearing before being questioned by committee members. During his questioning, Lighthizer was asked to provide insight on the 232 tariffs, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the timeline on a deal with Japan. Additionally, Lighthizer was asked to address the status of U.S. pork market access into China. In response to the inquiries, Lighthizer said that the administration wants to work with Canada and Mexico to resolve the 232 tariffs, that negotiations with Japan are set to begin next month and that if a deal with China is reached, it will be significant for U.S. pork.

 

SECRETARY PERDUE ADDRESSES STATE OF RURAL ECONOMY

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture this week held a hearing to address the state of the rural economy with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue providing testimony. Following his testimony, Perdue was asked to address U.S. safeguards to prevent African swine fever (ASF) from entering the country, the status of U.S. trade and where 2018 Farm Bill program implementation stands. Perdue assured committee members that foreign animal disease prevention protocols are in place and acknowledged the significant threat ASF poses to U.S. pork. Additionally, the secretary voiced optimism that the United States, Canada and Mexico would come to an agreement on the metal tariffs and that a plan was in the works to assure all Farm Bill programs are implemented effectively and in a way that provides the most benefit for America’s farmers and ranchers.

 

NPPC SUPPORTS USDA WILDLIFE SERVICES FUNDING

NPPC, along with 218 additional signatories, sent letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership this week, voicing support for funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS). USDA Funding is essential to U.S. agriculture as the agency works to minimize or manage wildlife damage and to protect human health and safety from conflicts with wildlife. Wildlife damage to U.S. livestock, aquaculture, small grains, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products is estimated at $1 billion annually. The spread of wildlife diseases to livestock is also a significant concern for U.S. agriculture, including pork producers. WS is the first line of defense in combating such diseases and is, therefore, essential.

 

USDA TO HOLD FARM BILL IMPLEMENTATION LISTENING SESSIONS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week it will host 10 Farm Bill implementation listening sessions over the next month. During these sessions, producers will have an opportunity to weigh in with USDA officials on Farm Bill program implementation, including implementation of the animal disease prevention and management provisions championed by NPPC. The session will provide an opportunity to emphasize the importance of securing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank for the livestock industry.

 

WHEELER TO LEAD EPA

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew Wheeler to serve as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a 52-47 vote.

 

AGRICULTURAL GROUPS OPPOSE FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION BOARD NOMINATION

NPPC was one of more than two dozen agricultural signatories on a letter to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., opposing the nomination of Rodney Brown for the Farm Credit Administration board. The agency regulates the agricultural banking system. Brown is the former president and CEO of the California Bankers Association, a trade organization. The organizations, including NPPC, oppose Brown’s nomination because he previously held a leadership position in an organization that lobbied for the elimination of the Farm Credit System. America’s pork producers are largely dependent on and value the Farm Credit System.

 

WHAT’S AHEAD

2019 NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM APPROACHING

The National Pork Industry Forum – NPPC’s annual business meeting – will be held in Orlando, Fla., from March 6-8. During the event, NPPC will elect new officers and members to its board of directors.