For the Week Ending March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

Washington, D.C., March 12, 2010 


NPPC continues to work with the Obama administration and members of Congress to ensure that China lifts its ban on U.S. pork imports. Chinese officials in late October pledged to reopen their market, which since April 2009 has been closed to U.S. pork because of an outbreak in humans of the H1N1 flu. Recently, China dropped its ban on the importation of Canadian pork – a move that has prejudiced U.S. pork producers. On February 25, in support of U.S. pork producers who have lost money since September 2007, a bipartisan group of 22 U.S. senators sent a letter to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack and USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk inquiring about the status of China’s reopening its market to American pork exports and pledging to support the Obama administration in ensuring the commitment to reopen China’s market is honored. The same day, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., sent a letter to Kirk, encouraging the trade ambassador to continue working with Sec. Vilsack to ensure China’s commitment is kept. China has more potential, by far, than any market in the world for U.S. pork exports. The U.S. is the low-cost producer and No. 1 pork exporter in the world. In addition to the H1N1 ban, China restricts U.S. pork through a non-science based ban on pork derived from hogs that have consumed the feed additive ractopamine. China also lavishes huge subsidies on its domestic pork industry and it discriminates against imported pork and many other imported products through its value-added tax policies. Notwithstanding these other obstacles, Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates that the United States has the capacity to sell up to $700 million in pork to China this year based on ractopamine-free production systems that are now available. According to Hayes, pork exports to China market will raise U.S. live hog prices by $9 per hog. That export surge could play a central role in the administration’s National Export Initiative, which seeks to double U.S. exports in the next five years. NPPC will continue to work closely with the administration and Congress until China lifts its ban on U.S. pork products.


NPPC President Sam Carney, President-elect Doug Wolf and CEO Neil Dierks participated today in the first of a series of joint public workshops on competition and regulatory issues affecting the agriculture industry.  The workshop, held in Ankeny, Iowa, was hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, Iowa Agriculture Sec. Bill Northey and the attorney general from Iowa – Tom Miller – and several states as well as a number of academics participated in the workshop. Several more workshops will be held in the coming months to continue discussion on competition in agriculture issues. For complete details on dates, times and topics, click the following link: USDA/DOJ Workshops.


The National Pork Producers Council elected new officers and members to its board of directors at the National Pork Industry Forum held March 4-6 in Kansas City, Mo. Taking over as president of the organization is Sam Carney, a producer from Adair, Iowa. Doug Wolf, owner of Wolf L & G Farms LLC in Lancaster, Wis., was elevated to president-elect; R.C. Hunt, a producer from Wilson, N.C., was elected to the vice president’s position. Re-elected to the board for three-year terms in the producer category were Hunt; Larry Liepold from Okabena, Minn.; and Randy Spronk from Edgerton, Minn. Dr. Ron Prestage, DVM, from South Carolina was elected to a three-year term. Al Deutsch, with AP Division of Grain Systems Inc., was elected as NPPC’s allied industry representative. In addition to the newly elected and re-elected officers and board members, continuing as NPPC directors are: Gary Asay, from Osco, Ill.; Robert Dykhuis from Holland, Mich.; Howard Hill from Cambridge, Iowa; Mark Legan, from Coatesville, Ind.; and Bill Luckey from Columbus, Neb. Todd Neff, with Tyson Fresh Meats, remains as the representative on NPPC’s Packer-Processor Industry Council. Don Butler, a pork producer from Clinton, N.C., and director of government relations and public affairs for Murphy-Brown LLC – the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods – will serve on the board as immediate past president. Producers Phil Borgic from Illinois and Ray Summerlin from North Carolina were elected for one-year terms to NPPC’s Nominating Committee, which reviews the credentials of candidates for the organization’s board of directors.


NPPC held an International Trade Policy briefing Wednesday, hosting more than 25 U.S. Department of Agriculture staff from the Office of Scientific Affairs and the Office of Country and Regional Affairs in USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service. NPPC brought in industry experts Dermot Hayes, professor Pioneer chair in agribusiness at Iowa State University, and Ray Gamble, president of the international commission on trichinellosis at the National Academy of Sciences, to address the group. NPPC CEO Neil Dierks, other NPPC staff and staff from the National Pork Board also made presentations to the group. The purpose of the briefing was to help FAS staff understand how NPPC interacts with producers, allied industry, USDA, other parts of the administration, Congress and foreign governments in developing and implementing trade policy.


At its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum, NPPC adopted a number of resolutions, including ones that call for:

  • NPPC to oppose EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act.
  •  NPPC to oppose climate change legislation at the state and nation level that would reduce grain acres, raise the price of inputs and create cuts in pork production in those countries that support the climate change goals.
  • NPPC to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive and integrated swine disease surveillance system that addresses animal and public health needs.
  • NPPC to urge all producers to work with their veterinarians to submit appropriate Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) surveillance samples to the USDA SIV surveillance program.
  •  NPPC to request the CDC to strongly encourage media outlets to use proper terminology when reporting on new endemic diseases as they emerge.
  • NPPC to recommend eliminating Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS) virus from the U.S. swine herd.  The policy should support and identify resources and investments for accomplishing this goal. The policy must not make eradicating the PRRS virus a government mandate.
  • NPPC to urge Congress to oppose changing the process FDA and USDA agencies have used when trace back to the farm occurs.
  • NPPC to support live hog and carcass pricing mechanisms that provide pork producers flexible marketing and pricing opportunities.
  • NPPC to oppose any new legislation or regulations that restrict marketing opportunities or interventions into hog markets, unless such actions address a clear, unequivocal instance of market failure or abuse of market power as determined by the NPPC board of directors.

To view a complete list of all resolutions approves at the 2010 National Pork Industry Forum, click the following link: NPPC 2010 approved resolutions. [[[[pdddfff}

NPPC last week signed onto a letter supporting House resolutions of disapproval for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to move forward on regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The resolutions, sponsored by Reps. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, come in response to the December 2009 EPA finding that greenhouse gases qualify as dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, which triggered the EPA to require by March 2010 to begin regulating carbon emissions. Such regulatory actions could have severe consequences for the U.S. economy, including America’s farmers and ranchers, through increased input costs and international market disparities. To view the letter, click the following link: Letter to Reps. Skelton and Barton. [[[[pddfffff]]]]]]


At a House Agriculture Appropriations hearing Wednesday, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, quizzed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on the public position FDA has taken on animal antibiotic use. Calling the issue a “public health concern,” Hamburg responded by saying that FDA is working closely with all stakeholders to develop science-based standards, recognizing that to protect public health the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat sickness and disease must be preserved. At one point during the hearing, Latham asked Hamburg to produce science linking antibiotic resistance to antibiotic use in animals, to which Hamburg responded that the entire fluoroquinolones drug class had to be withdrawn from use. It should be noted that only one product, Baytril water soluble for poultry, has been banned from usage and that fluoroquinolones can still be used in dairy cattle, beef cattle and swine. The hearing concluded with Hamburg stating that FDA will continue examining the issue.


NPPC’s Laurie Hueneke, director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary and Technical Issues, last week attended as part of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Codex Committee on Food Import & Export Inspection and Certification Systems a seven-day meeting in Australia to discuss trade issues with representatives from a number of countries. The primary issue of relevance to the U.S. pork industry that was discussed involved further development of a draft guideline for foreign on-site audits and inspections – essentially how to create and implement an assessment by an importing country of an exporting country’s inspection and certification systems. The draft guideline that was in place prior to the meeting would have allowed foreign officials to enter farms as a condition of market access. This conflicts with current U.S. policy and would have led to additional trade barriers with U.S. trading partners as well as compromise the bio-security of U.S. farms. NPPC has led an industry coalition of livestock and feed organizations, working closely with the U.S government and its trading partners, to gain support for alternative draft language. The week-long meeting concluded with an established draft international standard that recognizes a systems-based approach to foreign assessments that is consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO) concept of equivalency. The Codex Alimentarius is the international reference body to the WTO for the harmonization of food trade standards.


The Chicago Mercantile Exchange March 6 at the annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – of the National Pork Producers Council awarded scholarships to four college students who intend to pursue careers in the pork industry. NPPC administers the scholarship selection process.

The winners of the $2,500 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, N.C. – are:

• Jamie Marie Keener, Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina State University.
• AnnaMarie Samson, Three Forks, Mont., Montana State University.
• Hannah Sandidge, Marshall, Mo., University of Missouri.
• Seth R. Spronk, Edgerton, Minn., South Dakota State University.

This is the 20th year of the CME scholarship program, which recognizes outstanding youth in the pork community. To be eligible, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals. Visit 2010 CME scholarship winners for more information. [[[[[[[[[[PDFFFFFF}


Last week, a judge in Jackson County, Mo., awarded $11 million to 15 people who claimed that the odor coming from a hog operation owned by Premium Standards Farms kept them indoors and nauseous. The group won a $5.2 million lawsuit against Premium Standards Farms in 1999 for the same odor issues they claim have not been addressed. John Harmon, the attorney presenting the corporation’s case with Jean Paul Bradshaw of Kansas City, argued that Premium Standard had spent $39 million to fix the odors. Officials for Premium Standard Farms said in a prepared statement that they were disappointed by the verdict and would appeal.


NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo will be held June 9-11 at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. Follow @NPPCWPX on Twitter at for coming announcements and updates on the largest pork industry trade show and exhibition in the world.