For the Week Ending November 11, 2016

November 11, 2016

TPP PROSPECTS GRIM

Potential for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the “lame duck” session of Congress all but came to a halt this week when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in an upset over Hillary Clinton. Throughout his campaign, Trump has been an outspoken opponent of the 12-country deal, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. “I think the TPP is dead, and there will be blood all over the floor if somebody tries to move that through the Congress anytime soon,” Trump confidant Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told reporters Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Sessions’ statement. “It’s certainly not going to get brought up this year,” he said. Still, there is hope for TPP in other parts of the world. Japan’s lower house of Parliament this week passed the TPP. Japan’s upper house has to give final approval, which could happen later this month. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with Trump next week. President Obama will be meeting with leaders from the 11 other TPP countries at the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru next week.

 

 RIGHT TO FARM BILL REJECTED 

Oklahoma voters Tuesday rejected Ballot Question 777 that would have established constitutional farming and ranching rights. Placed on the ballot by the Oklahoma Legislature, the measure would have allowed courts to rule on any state and local laws regulating agricultural activities passed after Dec. 31, 2014. The question would have allowed farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws, making the state more attractive to farmers and allowing the free market to decide best farming practices. Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanen stated, “Although we are disappointed in today’s vote, we will not waiver in our commitment to ensuring our family farmers and ranchers can continue to operate without fear from outside interest groups and provide consumers with choice when they go to the grocery store.” The rule was blocked by opponents claiming it lacked public health and environmental protections.

 

 ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS WIN IN MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts voters Tuesday approved Ballot Question 3, outlawing the use of certain housing for chickens, pigs and veal calves and prohibiting the sale of pork, eggs or veal from animals kept in such housing. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022. While only one poultry farm in Massachusetts is directly impacted, the law also applies to selling products knowingly raised in this way from out-of-state sources. Animal rights activists picked Massachusetts to push the initiative through as a springboard to start a national movement. The law is similar to one in California, which has seen an increase of 75 cents per dozen eggs since its initiative took effect Jan. 1, 2015. Opponents of the question warned of a similar price hike in Massachusetts but to no avail. NPPC was part of a coalition that opposed the ballot question, arguing that it dictates to Massachusetts farmers how to raise and care for their animals.

 

 GAO REPORTS ON WEST COAST SHIPPING PORTS

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week released a report in response to the 2014-2015 labor slowdown and port disruptions at West Coast shipping facilities. The report noted that infrastructural and operational changes such as terminals with cranes capable of handling larger ships have been undertaken by all West Coast ports but advised addressing volume-processing issues. Because of backed up shipping during the labor slowdown, 13 of 21 industry groups saw revenues decline or costs increase. Those groups continue to see some member companies making alternative shipping plans to avoid port congestion. The report also noted that the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is increasing its inclusivity of ports and multi-modal activities, however, the GAO is concerned with the informational gaps important to aspects of supply chains. With the DOT’s development of a freight strategy in its infancy, the GAO report recommends it identify the supply chain information and sources it seeks, how it plans to utilize the data and recognize gaps. The West Coast ports play a crucial role in transporting meat commodities, so streamlining the infrastructure and operational process is vital to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry.

 

CODEX COMMITTEE MEETS ON FOOD HYGIENE

The Committee on Food Hygiene of the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food-safety standards-setting body, this week met in Los Angeles, California for its annual meeting. Courtney Knupp, NPPC’s deputy director of International Trade Policy, attended as a member of the U.S. delegation. Issues discussed during the meeting included work on the draft revision of the General Principles of Food Hygiene and its HACCP Annex; consideration for merging existing guidance documents to control foodborne parasites; potential new work on shigatoxin-producing E. coli in livestock; and consideration for revision of the meat code.

 

 PORK PRODUCER NAMED ‘FACE OF FARMING’

U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) Thursday announced Lauren Schwab, a pork producer from Ohio, as one of its “Face of Farming & Ranching” winners. Schwab, along with four others, will get the opportunity to share her personal farming story on a national stage with consumers, influencers and end users to help gain confidence in U.S. food and agriculture. Schwab is a week-one specialist and farrowing house manager on her family’s 1200-sow breed-to-wean pig farm. USFRA Chairman Brad Greenway congratulated the winners saying, “Agriculture today is driven by technology and an unparalleled commitment to animal care, and this group of exceptional farmers and ranchers are such an accurate portrayal of the entire agricultural community.” Learn more about each “Face of Farming & Ranching” by visiting www.fooddialogues.com/farmers-ranchers.

 

 

 WHAT’S AHEAD 

 

CONGRESS RETURNS TO SESSION

Lawmakers from both chambers return to Washington, D.C., next week for the so-called lame duck session, the period after the elections and the end of the current Congress, which is expected to be in mid-December. Debate on a government funding bill is expected to take precedence.