Week Ending October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009

Washington, D.C., October 16, 2009 

USDA TESTING U.S. PIGS FOR H1N1 FLU; NPPC REITERATES THAT PORK IS SAFE TO EAT

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in a statement issued today said it is conducting ‘confirmatory testing’ on swine for the novel H1N1 virus. The tests are being conducted on swine samples collected at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair between August 26 and September 1. According to USDA’s statement, the pigs sampled at the time showed no signs of illness and were apparently healthy. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack’s said that, like people, pigs routinely get sick or contract influenza viruses. Indeed, pigs in other countries previously have contracted the novel H1N1 flu. In its own statement released today, NPPC reiterated that pork is safe to eat and handle and that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu viruses cannot be transmitted through food, including pork. It also pointed out that the U.S. government has strict safeguards in place to protect the safety of the U.S. food supply. All pork found in retail stores and restaurants is inspected to the rigors of USDA standards for wholesomeness, and every pig is inspected to ensure that only healthy pigs enter the food supply. Since the H1N1 flu was first reported in late April, NPPC and the National Pork Board have urged pork producers to tighten their existing biosecurity protocols to protect their pigs from the virus, including restricting public access to barns. For more information about the H1N1 flu, visit www.factsaboutpork.com or www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu. Pork producers who want more information about dealing with the H1N1 flu should visit www.pork.org.

NPPC ASKS SUPPORT FOR LANGUAGE RESTRICTING GREENHOUSE GAS REPORTING

NPPC, along with the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation, this week sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees that deal with environmental matters, outlining the priorities of the U.S. livestock and poultry industries in the fiscal 2010 spending bills for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which soon will reviewed by a conference committee. Specifically, the groups ask that lawmakers support House language restricting the implementation of any rule requiring the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems in place on livestock farms. Under proposed EPA regulations, livestock producers who emit over the equivalent of 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide would be required to calculate and report the level of those emissions. The requirement would treat farms in a manner identical to coal-fired power plants and petroleum refineries and would impose an onerous burden on livestock producers to ascertain emissions from diffuse sources.

CONGRESSIONAL LETTER TO URGE OBAMA TO SUPPORT U.S.-SOUTH KOREA FTA

NPPC is encouraging U.S. House members to sign on to a letter from Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash., to President Obama, who next month travels to Asia to meet with foreign officials, asking that he “prepare the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement for congressional consideration.” In 2008 South Korea was the sixth largest market for U.S. pork, with exports valued at $284 million. The country ranked as a top destination for U.S. live hogs in 2008 with exports of $1.1 million. It is estimated that when the FTA is fully implemented, U.S. pork exports to the Asian nation will rise to nearly 600,000 metric tons worth about $10 per market hog to U.S. producers. That’s significantly more than the amount currently shipped to Japan, the No. 1 export market for U.S. pork.

NPPC OFFICIALS ATTEND LATIN AMERICAN PORK CONGRESS

NPPC President Don Butler and Vice President and International Trade Counsel Nick Giordano this week attended the Latin American Pork Congress held in the Dominican Republic. The pair met with many leaders from western hemisphere pork-producer groups, along with industry representatives, to discuss among a host of other issues international trade affecting U.S. pork producers.

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON CLEAN WATER ACT

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Thursday held a hearing titled “The Clean Water Act After 37 Years: Recommitting to the Protection of the Nation’s Waters.” EPA Administer Lisa Jackson was among the environmental specialists who testified before the subcommittee. In her testimony, Jackson announced that EPA is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act enforcement. Jackson also claimed that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) pollute and threaten the safety of U.S. waters. Rep. Robert Latta, R-Ohio, asked Jackson how EPA will treat CAFOs in the effort to enforce compliance with the Clean Water Act. Jackson said the agency will work to develop a strategy to ensure that CAFOs are not unlawfully polluting various water sources. Jackson noted that EPA will identify the largest facilities and work with them to ensure that they obtain the appropriate permits and abide by the law.

WHAT’S AHEAD

NPPC TO TESTIFY ON PORK INDUSTRY ECONOMIC CRISIS

NPPC President Don Butler will testify Oct. 22 on the economic crisis in the U.S. pork industry before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry. Pork producers have suffered losses of an average of $25.90 per hog for the past two years. Other witnesses scheduled to testify include Dave Moody, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association; Mark Greenwood, vice president of commercial lending for AgStar Financial Services of Mankato, Minn.; University of Minnesota agriculture economist Brian Buhr; and Rod Brenneman, president and CEO of pork producer and processor Seaboard Foods.

NPPC TO HOST RUSSIAN WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION NEGOTIATOR

Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president and counsel for International Trade Policy, will meet with Russia’s World Trade Organization negotiator Max Medvedkov next week to discuss U.S.-Russian trade relations.

SENATE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON CURRENT FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is set to hold a hearing titled “Keeping America’s Families Safe: Reforming the Food Safety System” on Oct. 22. The House passed its version of food safety legislation in July.