For the Week Ending May 17, 2019

May 17, 2019

U.S. ENDS NORTH AMERICAN METAL TARIFFS
The Trump administration today announced plans to lift the 25% tariff on steel and the 10% duty on aluminum imports imposed last year on Canada and Mexico. The tariffs would be lifted after 48 hours. In a statement, David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., and NPPC president, “thanked the administration for ending a trade dispute that has placed enormous financial strain on American pork producers. Removing the metal tariffs restores zero-tariff trade to U.S. pork’s largest export market and allows NPPC to focus more resources on working toward ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which preserves zero-tariff trade for U.S. pork in North America.” Last year, Canada and Mexico took over 40% of the pork that was exported from the United States. NPPC has designated USMCA ratification as a “key vote” and will closely monitor support of the agreement among members of Congress. In related news, President Trump announced Friday he will delay imposing auto tariffs for up to six months due to ongoing negotiation with Japan and the European Union. For a full version of NPPC’s press release, click here.

 

PORK NOT INCLUDED IN LATEST CHINESE TARIFF INCREASE; WASHINGTON POST PROFILES CONTINUED STRAIN ON U.S. PORK PRODUCERS
Last week, the U.S. increased tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% and the administration is threatening to place 25% tariffs on the remaining $325 billion of Chinese imports. In response, China announced plans to impose tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products, although pork is not on the latest list. However, the 50% retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork, on top of the existing 12% duty, remains. In a Washington Post article issued Friday, NPPC Past President Randy Spronk outlined the damage that retaliatory tariffs have had on the U.S. pork industry. “American pork is a $6.4 billion export market, but we’ve been hit more than any other sector,” he said. “Our highest value markets are the ones that are impacted by these tariffs. We got side swiped. The additive effects of these tariffs come out of my back pocket,” he added. NPPC Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano was also quoted about food aid for pork and other commodities. “Trump has opened the door to helping needy people outside the U.S.,” he said. “And that’s the door we want to walk through. Most of our producers are going to say, ‘So what if there’s a WTO issue? We’ve got a five-alarm fire on our hands.’ I defy anybody to look my producers in the eye and tell them the government shouldn’t work with them on pork as food aid.” NPPC continues to advocate aggressively for an end to trade disputes with Mexico and China, and the swift completion of a trade agreement with Japan.

 

NPPC APPLAUDS ADDITIONAL USDA MEASURES ON ASF PREVENTION 
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced additional measures to enhance its African swine fever preparedness efforts with the implementation of a surveillance plan. NPPC applauded the announcement. “U.S. pork producers are already suffering as a result of numerous trade disputes with top-importing countries, and an outbreak of ASF in the United States would be devastating,” said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., and president of NPPC. “That’s why it’s so important we have a strong surveillance program, to ensure early notification of any spread of the virus. With no vaccination available, prevention is our only defense. We thank USDA for today’s announcement and look forward to working with the agency to strengthen safeguards to protect our animals.” Read NPPC’s full press release here.

 

NPPC CONTINUES CALLS FOR ASF PREVENTION, MORE AG INSPECTORS 
This week, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom attended several Washington, D.C. meetings on African swine fever (ASF) prevention. Wagstrom met with USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach to discuss ongoing ASF prevention and control activities within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She also spoke at a State Department briefing on ASF. Among attendees were representatives from eight U.S. government agencies. NPPC supports USDA’s efforts to ensure ASF isn’t spread to the United States. NPPC is advocating for congressional funding for 600 new agricultural inspectors for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to further strengthen our defenses against ASF and other foreign animal diseases. Lastly, Wagstrom participated in a joint USDA Agricultural Research Service/industry session to exchange information on industry priorities on research.

 

NPPC MEETS WITH OMB ON HOURS OF SERVICE PROPOSAL 
NPPC Assistant Vice President of Domestic Affairs and Counsel Michael Formica met Wednesday with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to discuss a forthcoming Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal to revise and update its Hours of Service (HOS) rules. Under the current rules, a livestock hauler can only drive 11 hours in a day, and work a maximum 14 hours, before taking a mandatory 10-hour rest break. NPPC stressed the need for new hours of service rules to include provisions allowing haulers to split up their required rest time, to recognize the impact of adverse weather conditions on the ability of haulers to comply with HOS limits, and to expand the hours of service that a livestock hauler can drive. The inflexibility of the Hours of Service rules are in many cases incompatible with livestock hauling, Formica told OMB. Additionally, the Electronic Logging Devices currently on the market are not designed and can’t be operated to address federal exemptions that have been developed for agriculture, including livestock haulers. As a result, for many routes, drivers will be forced to choose between arbitrary DOT HOS limits and the welfare of the animals in their care. NPPC supports legislation introduced in February that would establish a working group at DOT, tasked to deliver within one year an action plan for reforms that support the safe, humane transportation of agricultural commodities, including pigs. NPPC expects the Department of Transportation to shortly issue a proposed change to hours of service rules.

 

NPPC LEADS FRIEND OF COURT BRIEF ON GROUNDWATER REGULATION 
NPPC led several trade organizations in filing a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court this week on a case supporting petitioner the county of Maui (County of Maui vs Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al.) involving regulating groundwater under the Clean Water Act. The case involves whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit whenever pollutants originate from a point source, but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source such as groundwater. Should the court uphold the Ninth Circuit’s erroneous expansion of the Clean Water act, the Clean Water Act’s long-established agricultural stormwater exemption would be at risk. The loss of that exemption would potentially require pork producers and other farmers to obtain federal permits to apply manure and other fertilizers, pesticides and conduct other routine farm activities. It would significantly increase risk of agency enforcement and citizen suits for millions of agricultural enterprises across the country.

 

DETAILS OF U.S. TRADE AID PACKAGE COMING SOON 
Recently, the Trump administration indicated it is planning a trade relief package in response to the U.S. trade dispute with China. In comments to reporters this week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said the details of the package should be done in a matter of “days, not weeks or months.” The administration is working on a second tranche of trade aid for $15 billion, news reports indicate. Officials are considering an expansion of funds from the Commodity Credit Corp. Last week, NPPC issued a statement that “[w]hile there is no substitute for resolving these trade disputes and getting back to normal trade, NPPC welcomes the offer of assistance from President Trump.”

 

NPPC STAFFERS MEET THE PRESS 
NPPC was well represented at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ “Washington Watch” in our nation’s capital on Monday. Director of Economics & Domestic Production Issues Dustin Baker, Director of Science & Technology Dan Kovich, Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba, Assistant Vice President of Communications Jim Monroe and Director of Communications Rachel Gantz talked to more than 20 agriculture reporters about trade, African Swine Fever, gene editing, and labor-related issues.

 

USDA NOMINEES APPROVED BY SENATE COMMITTEE 
The Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday approved two nominations for U.S. Department of Agriculture posts: Mindy Brashears for undersecretary for food safety and Scott Hutchins for undersecretary for research, education and economics. NPPC supports both nominees, and looks forward to working with them once they are formally approved. It’s unclear when the full Senate will vote on the nominations.