For the Week Ending April 7, 2017
PORK PRODUCERS LOBBY CONGRESS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES
NPPC this week held its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., with about 125 pork producers from 19 states attending the biannual fly-in. Among the issues on which producers lobbied their congressional lawmakers were getting a free trade agreement with Japan and maintaining in the North American Free Trade Agreement zero-tariff market access for pork being exported to Mexico and Canada. They also urged members of Congress to support establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank, repealing a U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation – the so-called GIPSA rule – that would restrict the buying and selling of livestock and reforming the immigration system to ensure that the industry has access to a stable workforce. The organization’s Capitol Hill-famous congressional reception, renamed the Congressional Bacon Fest, drew a large crowd of pork producers, congressional staffers and members of Congress.
TRADE DOMINATES DISCUSSION AT POST-FLY-IN MEDIA BRIEFING
More than a dozen journalists gathered in NPPC’s Washington, D.C., office April 6 to learn more about the U.S. pork industry’s priority issues discussed in hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill this week. NPPC officers – President Ken Maschhoff, President-Elect Jim Heimerl and Vice President Dave Herring – hosted the meeting along with NPPC staff, including CEO Neil Dierks, Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel, and Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian. Maschhoff started the meeting with an overview of NPPC’s activities during this week’s legislative fly-in and its position on the Farm Bill, international trade, regulations, tax reform and immigration, then opened the floor to more than an hour of questions and answers with reporters from Politico, Agri-Pulse, RFD-TV, Reuters, National Public Radio, Inside U.S. Trade and others. While all key issues were covered, trade dominated the discussion as council representatives emphasized the importance of expanding export opportunities for U.S. pork.
SENATE CONFIRMATION VOTE SET ON NEW AGRICULTURE SECRETARY
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced this week that the Senate will hold former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s confirmation vote for Secretary of Agriculture April 24, when Congress returns from a two-week recess. The delay in voting on Perdue, who was expected to be confirmed this week, came after Senate Democrats signaled they would filibuster the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. (Gorsuch was confirmed today on a 54-45 vote, after Republicans voted to change the Senate rules to require a simple majority rather than 60 votes.) McConnell had considered offering a bipartisan time agreement, or unanimous consent of the Senate allowing Perdue and Gorsuch to be considered concurrently, but it became clear by mid-week that the Democrats wouldn’t agree. NPPC strongly supports Perdue’s nomination to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has urged the Senate to quickly confirm him.
PENCE, ROSS TO TALK TRADE WITH JAPAN
Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross April 18 will travel to Tokyo for talks on, among other matters, trade. The U.S. officials will meet with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko. NPPC has urged the Trump administration to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan, the No. 1 export market for the U.S. pork industry. Last week, Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Ted Yoho, R-Fla., introduced House Resolution 236, also asking the administration to start the process of establishing an FTA with Japan.