For the Week Ending August 3, 2018

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The U.S. Senate this week moved to go to conference on the 2018 Farm Bill, naming nine senators to serve with 47 House members on the committee that will reconcile differences in the bills passed by each chamber. The senators selected, all members of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, are: Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.. (See the House members of the conference committee here.) The first public meeting for conferees is expected at the end of August. For the next Farm Bill, NPPC will continue urging lawmakers to fully fund a vaccine bank to address an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease and to keep in the final bill a provision that would prohibit states from regulating agriculture practices in other states.



NPPC was one of nearly two dozen agricultural organizations on a letter addressed to U.S. Senate leadership this week in support of the nominations of Dawn DeBerry Stump and Dan Berkovitz as commissioners for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The nominees, both approved by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, will now be considered by the full Senate. NPPC, along with the other organizations, urged the Senate to confirm Stump and Berkovitz in a timely manner, noting that farmers rely on well-functioning agriculture and energy derivative markets to hedge risks. The CFTC oversees those markets.



Another verdict against a North Carolina hog farm came the same day outraged farmers and NPPC Past President Dr. Howard Hill gathered for a discussion of the suits’ threat to the state’s pork industry. North Carolina congressional lawmakers Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. David Rouzer joined U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service Under Secretary Bill Northey, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and agriculture officials from several other states for the National Agriculture Leaders Roundtable in Raleigh today to hear from hog farmers about nuisance lawsuits brought against 26 pork operations over noise and odors. Three of the cases have been decided over the past three months. In testimony to the officials, Hill noted that the judge in all three cases believes people who have moved to North Carolina’s rural communities can sue farmers for millions of dollars “for doing nothing more than simply farming. Enough is enough,” said Hill. “It’s time for our elected leaders to step up and stop this madness.” So far, the “madness” has resulted in three verdicts of nearly $100 million against family hog farmers who’ve operated in eastern North Carolina for decades. The North Carolina Legislature in June approved the Farm Act of 2018 to address nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations. The new law sets a deadline for bringing such suits of one year from an operation’s start and allows punitive damages only against a farm that had a criminal charge or code violation. (In late June state lawmakers overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the measure.) Tillis and Rouzer indicated they may introduced federal legislation to check such lawsuits. (Read NPPC’s statement on the verdict and roundtable meeting here.)





Trade representatives from the United States and Japan will meet in Washington, D.C., Aug. 9-10 to discuss increasing “free, fair and reciprocal trade” between the countries, Japanese officials announced on Tuesday. The two-day meeting will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to form a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan, the largest value market and second largest volume market for U.S. pork exports.