For t he Week Ending February 14, 2020

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Legislation now headed to President Trump’s desk for action authorizes funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) from entering the United States, representing a major win for the National Pork Producers Council. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.2107, by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), which also authorizes 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams. The bill was championed in the House by Reps. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Benny Thompson (D-Miss.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.) and Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.). “For more than a year, NPPC has advocated for more agricultural inspectors at our borders,” said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have done much to mitigate risk to animal disease, but we must remain vigilant.” The most likely path for a FAD to enter the country would be through the illegal transport of contaminated products. An outbreak of certain FADs would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, causing significant damage to farmers and consumers. NPPC continues to advocate for other FAD preparedness measures, including quickly establishing a U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill. To read the full NPPC press release, click here


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) misrepresentation of a gene edited livestock research project is its latest stall tactic designed to rationalize a regulatory grasp on an emerging technology that must be regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture if the United States is to maintain its global leadership position in agriculture. “While countries like China, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage, the United States is falling far behind because of the FDA’s precautionary regulatory approach,” said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. Unless we move oversight to the USDA, we are ceding a technology that promises significant animal health benefits, including immunity to disease and reduction in the need for antibiotic use, to other countries and jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of American jobs.” To date, the FDA has not responded in a meaningful way to the comments they received concerning the ramifications of their proposed regulatory process.  Meanwhile, other countries are moving forward with appropriate, risk-based pathways for approval of a technology that will give them an edge over American agriculture. To read NPPC’s full press release, click here


Speaking Tuesday at the Washington Ag Roundtable panel on the global threat of African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom highlighted the importance of continued vigilance to ensure ASF and other foreign animal diseases don’t enter the United States. Joining her at the event was Dr. Paul Sundberg of the Swine Health Information Center. In her remarks, Wagstrom outlined various education and preparation efforts to date, including NPPC’s participation last summer in a four-day ASF training exercise coordinated by USDA and held in 14 states with state animal health officials, producers and other industry stakeholders. She also highlighted the essential role that government agencies play in keeping the U.S. swine herd healthy. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is our first line of defense” against ASF and other animal diseases, she said, which is why House passage this week of legislation that would provide additional agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports is so important. NPPC also supports funding for additional signage and other awareness mechanisms.


On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted in favor of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam. The approval was 401-192 and the agreement will enter into force this summer. The trade agreement will open Vietnam’s market to EU industrial and agricultural exports. A trade agreement with Vietnam is a top priority for U.S. pork producers, especially as the country battles African swine fever and needs safe, reliable and affordable sources of pork. In August 2019, NPPC helped secure a USDA grant enabling the Swine Health Information Center to run a research project in Vietnam to better under the disease in an active-outbreak setting.  


The 2020 World Pork Expo will be held this June 3-5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, NPPC announced on Tuesday. “We’re excited to welcome all members of the pork industry back to Des Moines after a brief hiatus in 2019,” said David Herring, NPPC president, and pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “The 2020 Expo gives us an opportunity to connect across the industry to share knowledge and discuss the state of the industry together.” Out of an abundance of caution, last year’s World Pork Expo was cancelled due to reports of African swine fever in China and other countries. The 2020 Expo will have increased on-site biosecurity during the show, in addition to the live swine show being relocated offsite to reduce an already negligible risk. To read the full NPPC press release, click here