For the Week Ending October 25, 2019

October 25, 2019

SENATE SUPPORTS NPPC PUSH FOR MORE AG INSPECTORS

In an important milestone in NPPC’s ongoing push for congressional funding for more U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural inspectors, the Senate on Thursday passed by unanimous consent the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act. The vote reflects strong bipartisan support and authorizes $222 million over three years to enable CBP to hire 240 new agriculture specialists and 200 new agriculture technicians each fiscal year until the shortage is filled. The bill also funds 20 new canine teams each year. For more than a year, NPPC has led agriculture’s call for a solution to the ag inspector shortage to bolster the nation’s defenses against foreign animal diseases.

NPPC IN MEXICO FOR NORTH AMERICAN ASF PREVENTION FORUM

NPPC leaders and staff – including David Herring, president; Terry Wolters, chairman of NPPC’s Animal Health and Food Security Policy Committee; Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel, global government affairs and Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian – attended the second North American African Swine Fever Forum in Mexico City. The meeting, hosted by Mexican Agriculture Secretary Victor Villalobos, focused on harmonizing prevention and response between the United States, Mexico and Canada. It was attended by USDA APHIS and its counterparts in Canada and Mexico as well as state and regional veterinarians and other delegates from all three nations. In addition, David Herring represented NPPC at the annual meeting of Mexico’s national pork producer organization (OPORPA). Herring presented to more than 600 Mexican pork producers and industry representatives in attendance, addressing the current state of the U.S. pork sector and public policy priorities, including USMCA ratification, foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness, visa reform and gene editing. 

EPA PUBLISHES RULE REPEALING 2015 WOTUS LAW

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency officially published its final rule repealing the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) law. The agency announced plans to repeal WOTUS in September. Tuesday’s notice is effective in 60 days and lays the groundwork for a new final rule. The previous WOTUS rule was issued by the Obama administration in August 2015, giving EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams that farmers use for drainage and irrigation. Most importantly, it also covered lands adjacent to waters such as farm fields. Prior to the 2015 rule, EPA’s jurisdiction over waterways – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. NPPC had opposed the 2015 WOTUS rule because it was overly broad and had significant technical flaws, including the process that EPA used to develop the rule, which violated basic due process and long-standing procedural protections. On Aug. 21, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia remanded the rule to EPA to redraft, stating that the Obama-era WOTUS rule itself violated the Clean Water Act and that the Obama administration’s procedures for enacting the WOTUS rule were clearly in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

HOURS OF SERVICE PROPOSAL ‘PART OF A SERIES OF WELCOME STEPS,’ NPPC SUBMITS IN COMMENTS

The NPPC supports the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposal to increase flexibility for truckers, including livestock haulers, it wrote in comments submitted this week. The Hours of Service (HOS) of Drivers proposal, issued in August, revised rules around the amount of time truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. “While not perfect, FMCSA’s proposed rule is part of a series of welcome steps the agency has taken to adjust policies necessary to help address the challenges faced by livestock haulers,” NPPC explained in its comments. FMCSA’s proposal addresses the challenge of adverse weather by expanding not just the driving time, but also the overall on-duty time for drivers to finish their delivery. The proposed rule also allows truckers to split up their 10-hour mandatory rest period into two periods (one being at least 7 hours long) and creates an option for drivers to take an extended break between 30 minutes and 3 hours, which pauses their on-duty clock. This will allow drivers the option of resting when tired, while providing greater flexibility for completing deliveries and maintaining high animal welfare standards. In its comments, NPPC urged FMCSA to allow other time splits for livestock haulers and eliminate the distinction between on-duty and driving time, among other suggestions. A copy of NPPC’s comments can be viewed here.

WHAT’S AHEAD?

LOIS BRITT MEMORIAL PORK INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION PERIOD TO CLOSE JAN. 3, 2020

NPPC is now accepting applications for the Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship sponsored by the CME Group and Pork Industry Foundation. The scholarship is open to undergraduate students in a two-year swine program or four-year college of agriculture. The application period for this opportunity will close Jan. 3, 2020. For more information on how to apply, click here.