For the Week Ending August 14, 2020

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On Tuesday, NPPC and 26 state pork associations representing thousands of American hog farmers asked the USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to implement enhancements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program. These changes would mitigate the impact of unexpected declines in hog values from unanticipated events like the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, NPPC and the state pork associations asked for two LRP modifications: 1) an increased subsidy to make the program more affordable to livestock farmers, particularly when a risk management program is most needed but often cost prohibitive and 2) expansion of the coverage period to 52 weeks and an increase in the number of head eligible. Risk management decisions in pork production are often made at least 52 weeks in advance. The current maximum coverage period of 26 weeks, combined with limitations on the number of pigs that can be covered, have significantly limited program participation. Read the full NPPC press release here

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is expanding commodities eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and extending the application deadline to Sept. 11. Among other provisions, CFAP provided $1.6 million in direct payments to hog farmers. As USDA explained, “To ensure availability of funding, producers with approved applications initially received 80 percent of their payments. The Farm Service Agency will automatically issue the remaining 20 percent of the calculated payment to eligible producers. Going forward, producers who apply for CFAP will receive 100 percent of their total payment, not to exceed the payment limit, when their applications are approved.” Learn more by visiting here. NPPC continues to advocate for solutions to sustain pork producers through this unprecedented crisis. Last week, NPPC sent a letter to congressional leadership, urging them to include the RELIEF for Producers Act of 2020 in the next COVID-19 recovery package. The bill, introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), includes: 1) compensation for euthanized and donated hogs; 2) additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners; and 3) modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding. NPPC also continues to push for additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it useful to more producers.

For more than two years, pork producers have been dealt a challenging hand, from trade retaliation to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the U.S. government continues work to help farmers weather this unprecedented crisis, there is an immediate step the White House can take to help American agriculture maintain its global leadership status for years to come: ensuring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has regulatory oversight over gene-edited livestock, NPPC Director of Science and Technology Dr. Dan Kovich wrote this week in Farm Journal’s Pork. For more than two years, USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been in a regulatory tug of war over which agency has authority over genetic editing in livestock. Unfortunately, U.S. farmers are caught in the middle, allowing China, Brazil, Canada and other global competitors to move ahead in the race to utilize this new technology. Gene editing is used to make specific changes within an animal’s own genome and will allow us to produce animals that are more disease-resistant, require fewer antibiotics and have a better environmental footprint. For more information on the importance of ensuring USDA has regulatory oversight over gene-edited livestock, click here.

The fourth negotiating round of trade talks between the U.S. and the U.K. is scheduled for early September, the U.K. Department of International Trade said on Wednesday. According to the statement, both sides are expected to exchange market access offers for the first time during the talks, outlining the timetable for eliminating tariffs on most products. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss met in Washington, D.C., for their third round of trade talks. “In these meetings, both sides reviewed progress in the negotiations. The International Trade Secretary reasserted the UK’s priorities in an FTA [free trade agreement], and both sides reaffirmed their commitment to negotiating a comprehensive and ambitious agreement,” the U.K. Department of International Trade explained. In October 2018, the Trump administration first announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork, and that the U.K. acknowledges farming standards as equivalent. Ambassador Lighthizer continues to warn that the two nations are unlikely to reach a deal before the November elections.

NPPC is pleased the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recently released scientific report continues to highlight the important role that animal products play in ensuring sufficient protein and other nutrients in the American diet, it wrote in comments submitted Thursday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report will be used to inform officials as they develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “Pork products are one of the most widely consumed and enjoyed sources of protein in the U.S. diet, and the report highlights the fact that lean meats—such as most cuts and many preparations of pork—can make positive contributions to health,” NPPC wrote. As the 2020 dietary guidelines are being finalized, NPPC asked the agencies to consider three main issues: 1) “red and processed meats” are a diverse product group that should not be over-generalized; 2) recommendations concerning consumption of “red and processed meats” from the report be carefully translated; and 3) requested no action be taken on the report’s suggestion that USDA and HHS “support efforts to consider the Dietary Guidelines in relation to sustainability of the food system.” Read NPPC’s full comments here.