For the Week Ending April 5, 2019
NPPC RESPONDS TO MISINFORMED WAPO STORY ON PORK INSPECTION
Earlier this week, the Washington Post inaccurately portrayed a new pork inspection system currently under consideration by the USDA and supported by NPPC. The proposed system, one that has been evaluated for years through a pilot program, is designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process and to provide more flexibility for adopting new food-safety technologies, building on U.S. pork’s outstanding food-safety track record. The Post story irresponsibly suggests that the new system compromises food safety and that the USDA is yielding inspection oversight to the private sector. Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC’s director of science and technology, responds to these and other assertions in this Hogs on the Hill blog post.
NPPC CALLS FOR U.S., JAPAN TRADE AGREEMENT
NPPC this week welcomed reports that the United States and Japan will commence trade negotiations on April 15, 2019 and urged the Trump administration to expeditiously complete and deliver for ratification to Congress a trade deal that puts U.S. pork producers back on a level playing field in Japan. New Japanese trade agreements with the countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union (EU) are cutting into U.S. pork market share in its largest value market. Additionally, NPPC’s director of international affairs, Maria Zieba, this week addressed U.S. pork’s position on the trade negotiation with Japan at the Washington International Trade Association’s “Future of U.S.-Japan Trade” panel. A position paper by Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president and counsel, global government affairs, can be found here.
U.S. PORK CANNOT AFFORD LOSS OF MEXICAN MARKET
NPPC this week asked the Trump administration to carefully consider the fallout from cutting off trade between the United States and Mexico. U.S. pork producers and other American farmers are already facing mounting financial losses from retaliatory tariffs by Mexico and China. NPPC President David Herring said, “A cloud of uncertainty and restricted access to our most important export markets have strained U.S. pork producers and their families for more than a year. The value of our exports to Mexico and China are down 28 percent and 32 percent, respectively, this year. We are at the breaking point and cannot afford a total loss of the Mexican market, one that accounted for more than 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year.” NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to end current trade disputes, complete a trade deal with Japan and further expand export markets for U.S. agriculture. Listen to David Herring talk about U.S. pork’s trade priorities on this AgriTalk interview (starts at the 25-minute mark).
IOWA PORK PRODUCER DISCUSSES TRADE WITH U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS SUBCOMMITTEE
The U.S. House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship held a hearing this week: “The Small Business Trade Snapshot: Agriculture and Workers.” Iowa pork producer Mark Meirick provided testimony, emphasizing the significant role market access plays for America’s pork producers. “We are playing defense when we have enormous opportunity to go on offense with one of America’s most competitive export products.” You can read Mark’s testimony here.
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE ADVANCES CFTC NOMINEE
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry this week advanced the nomination of Heath Tarbert to lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. NPPC previously signed a letter expressing support for Tarbert, noting his depth of experience. Most recently, he was with the U.S. Treasury Department where he focused on international markets and investment policy. Tarbert’s nomination will now be considered by the full Senate.
USDA LAUNCHES H-2A VISA FEATURE ON FARMERS.GOV
The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced two new features on farmers.gov to help customers manage loans and apply for H-2A visas. The site includes an interactive checklist with application requirements, fees, forms and a timeline centered around a farmer’s hiring needs. The H-2A visa program, more commonly known as the temporary agricultural workers program, assists America’s farmers with filling hiring gaps. To address U.S. pork’s labor shortage, NPPC is advocating for expansion of the program to include non-seasonal workers.
PORK PRODUCERS TO LOBBY CONGRESS ON INDUSTRY ISSUES NEXT WEEK
NPPC will host its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C. next week, April 10-11, 2019. The biannual fly-in draws from around the country more than 100 pork producers who will meet with members of Congress to discuss issues of importance to U.S. pork, including the importance of maintaining and expanding export opportunities, Farm Bill implementation, African swine fever safeguards and necessary visa reform to address the current agricultural worker shortage.