For the Week Ending April 6, 2018
CHINA PLACES TARIFF ON U.S. PORK; NPPC EXPRESSES CONCERN
China on Monday responded to President Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs by placing retaliatory tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork. An additional tariff of 25 percent was placed on U.S. pork exports. NPPC responded: “Exports are extremely critical to the financial well-being of our producers. Over the past 10 years, the United States, on average, has been the top exporter of pork in the world, and we’re the lowest-cost producer. In any given year, we export pork to more than 100 nations, and those exports support 110,000 American jobs. Last year, nearly $6.5 billion of U.S. pork was exported, which was more than 26 percent of U.S. pork production. China was the third largest value market, with more than $1 billion in U.S. pork being shipped there last year.” NPPC continues to advocate for resolution of trade disputes with China and for the successful renegotiation of NAFTA. For NPPC’s full statement on Chinese tariff actions, click here.
NPPC RELEASES AGRICULTURAL LABOR STUDY; SUPPORTS H-2C VISA PROGRAM
NPPC this week released a study from Iowa State University (ISU) on the agricultural workforce. ISU economists determined that a reduction in the foreign-born workforce – prompted by a change in immigration policy – would not be offset by native-born workers and permanent residents. Instead, they found, the tighter supply of foreign-born workers would reduce overall demand for workers as production costs increase and would decrease agricultural output as farmers abandon labor-intensive operations. The result would be a 3.4 to 5.5 percent decrease in the total number of farm workers. NPPC is supporting congressional legislation creating a new visa program for non-seasonal foreign agricultural workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for periodic “touchbacks” to their country. The H-2C visa would replace the current H-2A temporary, seasonal agricultural worker program. The legislation initially would let agricultural employers hire up to 410,000 foreign workers for on-farm jobs and 40,000 for meatpacking plants. It also would put the H-2C program under USDA rather than the Department of Labor. [Click here for a video featuring pork producers addressing the labor issue and the need for visa reform and here to read the study.]
USDA COMPLETES WITHDRAWAL OF ORGANIC RULE
The Government Accountability Office this week announced that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule, late last year, followed all rule-making procedures. NPPC advocated against the rule, which would have incorporated into the National Organic Program welfare standards that were not based on science and that were outside the scope of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. The act limited consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices. In opposing the rule, NPPC raised a number of problems with the regulation, including animal and public health concerns and the fact that animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic.” NPPC also cited the complexity the standards would have added to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers. In withdrawing the rule, USDA determined the regulation exceeded the agency’s authority – something NPPC pointed out in comments on the rule – and that it would have had a greater economic impact on farmers than originally estimated.
NPPC SUBMITS COMMENTS TO KEEP FOOD AFFORDABLE IN SAN FRANCISCO
NPPC submitted comments this week to San Francisco’s Department of the Environment regarding its implementation of the Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance signed on Oct. 24, 2017, and effective Nov. 23, 2017. The ordinance requires large grocery retailers in San Francisco to report annually on antibiotics used in meat sold in their stores. The comments addressed the many flaws of the ordinance, including a lack of clear evidence demonstrating that antibiotic use in food animals poses a risk to consumers, failure to recognize existing federal regulations for antibiotic use in food animals and the likelihood that it will cause significant consumer confusion by advancing misleading information. NPPC concluded in its comments that the ordinance will not accomplish its stated goals and will ultimately raise food prices for consumers. Click here to read the comments in full.
PORK PRODUCERS TO LOBBY CONGRESS ON INDUSTRY ISSUES NEXT WEEK
NPPC next Wednesday and Thursday will host its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C. The biannual fly-in draws from around the country about 125 pork producers who will lobby congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry, including the importance of maintaining and expanding export opportunities, funding a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank in the next Farm Bill and establishing a regulatory environment that keeps food affordable. The popular Congressional Bacon Fest will be held April 11.