For the Week Ending May 1, 2020

May 1, 2020

DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT WILL PRIORITIZE PORK PRODUCTION CONTINUITY 
On Tuesday evening, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to extend much-needed federal support to the U.S. pork production system. By triggering the DPA, the federal government will prioritize the continuity of pork processing plant operations. “We are thankful for the support extended by our federal, state and local government leaders. As we all work together to protect workers and the nation’s food supply, we need uniform and consistent solutions and all available resources to address this unprecedented crisis,” said Howard “A.V.” Roth, NPPC president and a producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “While getting pork packing plants back online is foundational, the tragic reality is that millions of hogs can’t enter the food supply. We need coordinated partnership between the industry and federal, state and local authorities to euthanize pigs in an orderly, ethical and safe way,” he added. On Wednesday morning, Roth represented NPPC during a White House briefing with President Trump to discuss the DPA, and was honored to speak with the president about how much pork producers appreciate his actions to prioritize pork processing plant operations. A copy of NPPC’s press release is available here.  

NPPC IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT TALKS HOG FARMING WITH USDA SECRETARY
NPPC Immediate Past President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., was honored this week to be a guest on USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s latest podcast, Sonnyside of the Farm, to discuss the vital role that pork producers play in helping to feed America, and challenges that farmers currently face as a result of COVID-19. Herring is vice president of TDM Farms/Hog Slat, Inc., which started in 1983 growing feeder pigs for market. Today, TDM Farms is a sow farrow-to-finish operation with farms in North Carolina, Indiana and Illinois. As he explained to Perdue, the pork industry is based on a just-in-time inventory system. “As pigs go to market, pigs come right behind them,” he said. “The whole system is designed to flow through with no interruptions,” and with some packing plant closures, “that has created tremendous problems,” he explained. “It’s Mother Nature. You can’t turn [the system] on and off again.” Herring also discussed the tragic decision that some farmers are having to make to euthanize hogs. “It goes against everything a pig farmer stands for. Our goal is to raise a healthy, nutritious product and take care of our animals. The healthiest thing to do in some cases is euthanasia. It’s a terrible situation and we hope we don’t have to.” Listen to the full podcast interview here

LAWMAKERS URGE TRUMP TO PROVIDE IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE, WITHOUT PAYMENT CAPS, TO HOG FARMERS
On Thursday, more than 50 lawmakers, led by Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), urged President Trump to provide immediate assistance to U.S. pork producers struggling as a result of COVID-19 challenges. “Over the past month, hog futures have plummeted by more than 30 percent, down to their lowest point in over 15 years. Restaurants closing their doors and the broader drop in public demand have largely fueled this decrease. However, recent processing plant closures in the Upper Midwest has severed a critical supply chain, leaving pork producing farms with nowhere to turn. Thousands of hog farmers are taking drastic measures to slow the growth cycle of their animals, but are unfortunately facing the prospect of a processing capacity incapable of accepting our inventory. These unprecedented challenges require the attention and immediate assistance from both Congress and federal agencies,” wrote the lawmakers. While the recently announced USDA COVID-19 aid package is welcome news, hog farmers receive as little as $4 per hog in assistance and they are facing more than 10 times that amount in losses, the lawmakers explained. The congressmen urged the administration to remove payment limitations that “severely undermines the impact of the program for hog farmers,” and the mobilization of existing farm programs to provide additional resources. The letter echoes NPPC calls for equitable, direct payments to producers without eligibility requirements. Three similar Congressional letters to President Trump were sent last week. A copy of this week’s letter is available here.  

USMCA TO TAKE EFFECT JULY 1
The Trump administration recently notified Congress that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement will take effect on July 1. On Tuesday evening, President Trump issued an executive order to create an interagency committee to monitor and enforce labor provisions of the USCMA, as required by the law to implement 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. 

NPPC: U.S.-KENYA FTA SHOULD REMOVE ALL TARIFF, NON-TARIFF BARRIERS FOR U.S. PORK
A free trade agreement between the United States and Kenya has the potential for a significant increase in the demand for U.S. pork products, but import duties and all non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork need to be fully eliminated, NPPC wrote this week in comments requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on a proposed U.S.-Kenya trade deal. In March, USTR notified Congress of its intent to begin negotiations with Kenya. While the United States is the top global exporter of pork, it has not exported pork to Kenya since 2016 due to tariff and non-tariff barriers. Specifically, Kenya has a 25 percent duty on U.S. pork products and complex, non-transparent and costly requirements for importation of meat products, including pork. “NPPC will give enthusiastic support to an FTA [free trade agreement] with Kenya that eliminates all tariffs on U.S. pork and allows for the import of pork using science-based and internationally recognized regulatory standards.” A copy of NPPC’s comments is available here

INTERIM WTO TRADE COURT CREATED
On Thursday, the European Union and 19 other World Trade Organization (WTO) members officially notified the agency of their agreement to create a new and interim appeal court to resolve trade disputes among themselves. WTO’s appellate body stopped functioning in December 2019. Thursday’s announcement essentially isolates the United States, which had blocked the selection of judges to the WTO appellate body and had not agreed to reform proposals. The members will now create a pool of 10 judges that could be called on to hear future appeals.