For the Week Ending March 13, 2020

March 13, 2020

NPPC SEEKS LABOR SOLUTIONS FOR POTENTIAL COVID-19 IMPACT ON PORK SUPPLY CHAIN

On Tuesday, NPPC warned U.S. government officials that the fallout from an ongoing labor shortage facing the U.S. pork industry and other agriculture sectors could significantly worsen due to the impact of COVID-19. In a letter to the president and other administration officials, members of Congress, and state governors, NPPC called for expedited solutions addressing the need for more workers on hog farms and in pork plants. It also called on federal, state and local governments to work together to develop a response to COVID-19 that protects public health and, whenever possible, supports animal care and minimizes disruptions to the U.S. pork production supply chain and consumers. NPPC also called on the administration to develop support plans for hog farmers if labor-related bottlenecks in the supply chain prevent hogs from being marketed. “School closures preventing parents from going to work and caring for their animals are already a concern in farm and plant communities,” said NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “The specter of market-ready hogs with nowhere to go is a nightmare for every pork producer in the nation. It would result in severe economic fallout in rural communities and a major animal welfare challenge.” To read the NPPC press release, click here.  

NPPC HIGHLIGHTS APPROPRIATIONS PRIORITIES
Preventing the spread of African swine fever remains NPPC’s top domestic priority. NPPC is working with Congress on appropriations so that funding is available to protect the U.S. swine herd. As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) FY 2021 appropriations funding, NPPC is advocating for funding the National Animal Health Laboratory Network at its $30 million authorization level, as well as full funding for APHIS’ Swine Health Program and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. NPPC also supports increased funding for USDA’s Animal Research Service (ARS) Agricultural Animal Research program, which is critical to detecting, preventing, controlling and treating livestock diseases. NPPC’s other appropriations priorities include: full funding for additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspectors, as authorized in the recently passed Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019, which President Trump signed into law last week; and pursuing appropriations language to require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to coordinate with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the animal protein industries to prevent misleading labeling of plant-based alternative proteins. In related news, the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, of which NPPC is a member, recently urged lawmakers to provide funding for USDA’s Market Access Program. This program expands export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Through the coalition, NPPC is also advocating for funding of the agency’s Foreign Market Development Program, which develops long-term export markets for U.S. agriculture. 

IOWA PORK PRODUCER TO CONGRESS: GENE-EDITED LIVESTOCK OVERSIGHT NEEDS TO BE UNDER USDA

Thanks to innovation and continuous improvements, U.S. hog farmers are the world’s leading suppliers of high-quality, safe and affordable pork. However, America is in danger of losing its leadership standing due to significant flaws in its current approach to regulating emerging animal breeding technologies, Iowa Pork Producers President Dr. Michael Paustian testified Thursday before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Oversight should be under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), not the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Livestock producers need access to these technologies. While countries like China, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly to gain a competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is falling behind,” said Paustian, a hog farmer from Walcott, Iowa, testifying on behalf of NPPC. Despite no statutory requirement, the FDA currently claims regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene-edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility. Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs. In June 2019, NPPC launched an aggressive campaign, “Keep America First in Agriculture,” to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock. Learn more by visiting www.nppc.org/kafa. To read the NPPC press release on Paustian’s testimony, click here

CANADA RATIFIES USMCA

Canada’s Senate voted unanimously on Friday to implement the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. The motion was included as part of a package to adjourn until April 20. In January, President Trump signed USMCA into law, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers. Canada’s approval is one of the final steps towards implementation of the trade agreement. USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. In 2019, Canada and Mexico took in over 30 percent of the pork that was exported from the U.S. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support over 26,900 U.S. pork jobs. The Trump Administration is working toward a June 1, 2020 implementation of the agreement, but that date is not yet confirmed. 

NPPC SIGNS LETTER URGING MARITIME COMMISSION TO ADOPT RULE TO DECREASE SHIPPING COSTS
This week, NPPC joined the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, the National Retail Federation, agricultural organizations, brokers and exporters in urging the Federal Maritime Commission to expeditiously adopt its Proposed Interpretive Rule that would promote efficiencies and decrease shipping costs. Currently, ocean carriers impose detention and demurrage fees even when the container is not physically available to be picked up. “With ongoing challenges posed by the coronavirus, there is real concern about these fees being assessed when there are equipment issues beyond the control of the shipper or motor carrier. Thus, these fees appear to be punitive measures by the ocean carriers, not an incentive to expedite container flow,” the groups wrote. “We believe that the approach of the Proposed Interpretive Rule, which provides guidance for when a detention or demurrage charge can or cannot be fairly imposed, is the correct one….We respectfully urge the Commission to promptly adopt the rule as published, which will assist the maritime industry in evaluating the fairness of these charges and resolving potential disputes,” the letter added.