For the Week Ending December 15, 2017

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continued its “Faces of Trade” series this week, releasing a segment on NPPC President-Elect Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. The “Faces of Trade” series showcases those individuals, American workers, farmers and entrepreneurs who benefit from international trade. International trade is vital for the prosperity and survival of American pork producers, as Heimerl alludes to in his video highlight, stating, “It’s a lifeline to keep my family farm in business. Without free trade, I would not be in business today, I could not survive.” Without free trade agreements (FTAs), such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. pork industry and U.S. economy would suffer, Heimerl points out. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to protect and maintain zero-duty market access into Canada and Mexico for U.S. pork products. Withdrawing from NAFTA would cost the U.S. pork industry $1.5 billion.



U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will withdraw a proposed organic rule for livestock and poultry. The Obama-era regulation – the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule – 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. 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, the 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 applauds the decision to withdraw by Sec. Perdue and his department. The withdraw notice, to be published in the Federal Register next week, is subject to a public comment period.



Led by the state of Indiana, the attorneys general for 13 states this week filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts over its ban on the sale of out-of-state meat and eggs from animals raised in certain housing. Massachusetts voters in November 2016 approved a ballot initiative that banned certain housing for pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves. The AGs are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the ban on the sale of meat and eggs from animals raised in housing systems prohibited by the state, which is set to take effect in 2022, violates the U.S. Constitution and the Commerce Clause’s original goal of preventing states from enacting barriers to interstate commerce and regulating commercial activities that take place beyond their borders. The lawsuit, filed directly with the high court based on its original jurisdiction over disputes between states, follows a similar suit recently filed by 13 states – led by the attorney general of Missouri – challenging a similar law restricting access to retail markets in California. NPPC fought both the Massachusetts and California initiatives and now is supporting the “No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017” (H.R. 2887), legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would prohibit states from imposing regulatory burdens on businesses, including pork operations, not physically present in the state. Earlier this year, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks testified on the bill before a House Judiciary subcommittee, saying: “Several states – most with little pork production – have banned gestation stalls, either through ballot initiatives or legislation. That was their prerogative, however ill-advised or uninformed their motives were. What NPPC and pork producers object to is one state adopting a law or regulation that dictates the practices of the other 49 states.”



Republican leaders this week came to an agreement on their final tax reform package, the first of its kind in more than 30 years. Details are expected to be released sometime Friday afternoon. The compromise is expected to include an income tax cut to 20 percent for pass-through businesses, a cut to 21 percent for corporations and a doubling of the exemption for those subject to the estate tax. An NPPC study on an earlier version of the bill found it would be marginally beneficial for U.S. pork producers. While the outcome remains unclear, the House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill early next week.



President Trump this week signed the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the military spending bill, which includes a provision strongly supported by NPPC. Introduced by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, the provision recognizes the risk of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) to our food security and our national security. NPPC has asked Congress for language in the next Farm Bill establishing and funding an FMD vaccine bank to address an FMD outbreak, which would have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture and the U.S. economy.



NPPC this week submitted letters commending the coordination efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Codex Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR) with the U.S. Codex office. The TFAMR met the week of Nov. 27 in Korea and will continue to meet over the next three to four years on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Responsible antibiotic use and understanding AMR are top priorities for U.S. pork producers as given their significant animal welfare and trade implications. NPPC understands that the livestock industry has a part of play through the responsible use of antibiotics in addressing AMR in livestock and humans, which is why it supports the One Health initiative and encourages the United States to stay engaged as a leader on the AMR issue. NPPC applauds the efforts of the USDA and FDA in allocating time and resources to the TFAMR to further strengthen understanding of AMR.




NPPC is currently taking applications for the 2018 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program, which is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation. The program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CME hog futures and was renamed in 2006 to honor late-NPPC board member Lois Britt. A lifetime supporter of agriculture, Britt spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, spending the last 15 years of her career with Smithfield Hog Production. The scholarship program annually awards $2,500 scholarships to 10 students who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry. Applications for this opportunity are due Jan. 5, 2018. More information on the program is available at or by clicking here.



American farmers and ranchers, including U.S. pork producers, will soon receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The questionnaire, distributed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), can be returned via mail or by online submission forms. All submissions are due Feb. 5, 2018.