For the Week Ending December 3, 2021
HUMPHREYS CHOSEN AS NEW NPPC CEO
NPPC announced this week that Bryan Humphreys, a former staff member with the organization, has been chosen as its new CEO, taking over from long-time leader Neil Dierks. Humphreys’ will begin his duties Dec. 21. The Iowa native previously served from June 2009 to October 2014 as NPPC’s director of grassroots, overseeing the Legislative Education Action Development Resource (LEADR) program and the Public Policy Leadership Institute (PPLI). After leading the Ohio Pork Council as executive vice president from October 2014 to December 2019, he joined the National Pork Board as vice president of producer, state and industry relations. Humphreys grew up working on the family farm, raising hogs, corn and soybeans. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, he was a state party political field director, working on election campaigns in Iowa, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Humphreys succeeds Dierks who in June announced his retirement from NPPC, where he has worked for 31 years, including the past 20 as CEO. The NPPC board of directors conducted a five-month search for the next CEO.
SHORT-TERM FUNDING BILL EXTENDS MANDATORY PRICE REPORTING
Senate and House lawmakers Thursday approved another short-term funding bill that keeps government programs, including USDA’s twice-daily reporting of livestock data, going until Feb. 18, 2022. The Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMRA) requires meatpackers to report purchases and sales of livestock and livestock products to USDA, which then publishes reports that include information on pricing, contracting for purchase and supply-and-demand conditions for livestock. LMRA expired Sept. 30, 2020, but was extended several times, most recently to Dec. 3, under congressional continuing resolutions that provide temporary funding for federal programs. NPPC had been urging Congress to reauthorize LMRA or, at least, extend it, with board Vice President Scott Hays in October testifying about its importance to pork producers. This week, more than 100 producers from around the country, participating in NPPC’s virtual Capitol Hill fly-in, lobbied lawmakers on LMRA, as well as on other pork industry issues.
WAIVER FROM ‘HOURS OF SERVICE’ RULE EXTENDED FOR LIVESTOCK TRUCKERS
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) this week extended to Feb. 28, 2022, a waiver for commercial truckers from the federal Hours of Service regulation. The HOS rule limits truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period and requires prescribed rest periods. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and prompted by NPPC’s efforts to ensure pork producers could continue transporting hogs, the FMCSA included livestock haulers in an initial emergency declaration that provided an exemption from the HOS regulation for commercial truckers hauling essential supplies, including livestock. The waiver subsequently was expanded to cover the delivery of livestock feed. In August, the FMCSA extended the waiver to Nov. 30. In that extension, the agency also requested that livestock haulers who use the waiver report that within five days of the end of each month on their FMCSA portal. Additionally, a provision in the infrastructure bill recently signed into law expanded the miles agricultural truckers can drive without the HOS restrictions. Divers hauling livestock already were exempt from the HOS rule for the first 150 air miles of their runs. Now they also will be exempt from HOS rules for the final 150 air miles from their final destination, providing additional flexibility to ensure drivers can safely complete their deliveries while protecting other drivers and ensuring the welfare of the animals in their care.
PORK PRODUCERS LOBBY LAWMAKERS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES DURING NPPC FLY-IN
Preventing foreign animal diseases, addressing a shortage of agricultural workers and reauthorizing a livestock price reporting law were the primary issues on which pork producers lobbied their congressional lawmakers this week, during NPPC’s fall Capitol Hill fly-in. More than 100 producers from across the country participated virtually in the Legislative Action Conference. Producers asked their members of Congress to support funding for efforts to prepare for and prevent foreign animal diseases, particularly African swine fever (ASF), which recently was detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in more than 40 years. They requested appropriations for more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspectors; for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which provides disease surveillance and diagnostic support in cases of large-scale animal disease outbreaks; and for additional staff for USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Veterinary Services. To address the ongoing labor shortage, producers urged lawmakers to reform the H-2A visa program, which allows temporary, seasonal farm laborers. The pork industry wants the visa program expanded to year-round agricultural workers, without a cap on the annual number of visas. It also supports providing a pathway to legal status for agricultural workers already in the United States. For the price reporting law, producers asked Congress to quickly approve a multi-year reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMRA) or, at least, pass an extension of it. In late September as part of a short-term funding resolution, Congress extended the LMRA to Dec. 3. The law requires meatpackers to report to USDA the prices they pay for cattle, hogs and lambs and other information. USDA publishes twice-daily reports with pricing information, contracting for purchase, supply and demand conditions for livestock, livestock production and livestock product values. During the fly-in, producers heard from Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) and from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration and of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.
EPA ASKS COURT TO RETURN FARM AIR EMISSIONS RULE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to return to the agency for revision regulations that exempt livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities routine emissions from their farms. Environmental and animal-rights groups in 2018 brought a lawsuit against the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which Congress approved with overwhelming bipartisan support after a federal appeals court rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component. The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups. In implementing the law, EPA also clarified that farmers did not need to report routine emissions to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – an adjunct to CERCLA. First responders have been clear they consider such reports unnecessary and burdensome. Activist groups sued to have the FARM Act regulations vacated and to force farms to immediately begin reporting emissions. If EPA’s request to the District Court is granted, farmers would not be required to take any new action until the agency completes a new rulemaking. NPPC and other livestock groups, as well as environmental and animal rights groups, have until Dec. 23 to respond to EPA’s motion. A decision from the court is expected in early 2022.
AGRICULTURAL GROUPS OFFER SOLUTIONS TO SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES
NPPC joined 18 other agricultural groups on a letter sent last week to the Biden administration, offering recommendations on policy actions it can take to provide short- and long-term relief from the country’s supply chain problems. Among those:
- Increase truck weight limits, allowing 91,000-pound, six-axle vehicles on federal interstate highways.
- Allow drivers under 21 to get commercial driver’s licenses and operate on all state and federal roadways.
- Finalize arbitration proceedings that would allow shippers to challenge unreasonable rail rates when there is insufficient competition.
- Work with business and labor leaders to extend hours of operation at all ports to help reduce backlogs.
- Establish an inter-agency working group focused on facilitating agricultural exports.
- Provide tariff relief on critical imported agricultural inputs, including seed, feed and pesticide ingredients and other important raw and finished agricultural materials.
- Work with international trading partners to remove export bans on agricultural inputs that restrict supply and negatively impact markets and farmers.
Click here to see all of the recommendations.
NPPC TO COMMENT ON PROP. 12 REVISED REGULATIONS
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) this week revised and submitted for public comment proposed regulations to implement Proposition 12, which, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, will prohibit the sale of pork from hogs born to sows raised in housing that does not comply with California’s highly prescriptive standards. It applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether produced in California or outside its borders. Nearly all pork currently produced in the United States fails to meet California’s arbitrary standards. NPPC will submit comments on the revised regulations by the conclusion of a 15-day comment period. In comments on earlier proposed regulations, NPPC pointed out that the rules would require unworkable annual certification of hog farmers’ compliance with the Prop. 12 requirements; create a complex accreditation process for entities allowed to conduct such certifications; impose burdensome and unnecessary recordkeeping requirements on farmers, meat packers and others throughout the pork supply chain; and impose unnecessary and problematic labeling requirements for pork. NPPC has requested that the effective date for Prop. 12 be delayed at least two years from the date regulations are finally promulgated. In addition to the revised regulations being issued, a coalition of animal welfare groups has filed suit in California state court over CDFA’s efforts to implement the law. NPPC, which has brought legal challenges against Prop. 12, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up and consider the constitutionality of the measure. California has been ordered by the high court to respond to NPPC’s lawsuit by Dec. 8. A decision from the Supreme Court on whether to accept the case for hearing likely will be made in early January.
CODEX APPROVES DOCUMENTS ON ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE
The Codex Alimentarius Commission – the U.N.’s international food-safety standards-setting body – recently approved documents for a Code of Practice to minimize and contain foodborne antimicrobial resistance and for establishing guidelines for integrated monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial resistance. NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and Dr. Trachelle Carr, the organization’s international technical services specialist, in October participated in the eighth meeting of the Codex commission’s Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, which formulated the documents. The Code of Practice allows for the use in food animals of antibiotics for prevention of diseases and the use of non-medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, restricting only the use of medically important drugs. The guidelines include language stating that implementation of surveillance and monitoring for antimicrobial use and resistance and results from them should not be used to limit trade.
GIORDANO NAMED ONE OF CAPITOL HILL’S TOP LOBBYIST
NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano this week was named one of Washington, DC’s top lobbyists by The Hill. “In one of the busiest years on record for the D.C. influence world, these are the people who wielded their connections and knowledge most effectively for their clients,” said the Capitol Hill publication of its list of advocates. They “are all key players who the nation’s biggest companies, advocacy groups, labor unions and trade associations turn to when they want their voices heard in the nation’s capital.” There are about 12,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. Giordano has directed NPPC’s Washington, DC, public-policy office for the past six years and served as the organization’s top trade lobbyist for more than 25 years.
NPPC ANNOUNCES 2022 VETERINARY STUDENT EXTERNSHIPS
NPPC has a veterinary government relations externship opportunity for six, fourth-year veterinary students for 2022. The externships are for two weeks in Washington, DC, (unless otherwise noted). The goal of the program is to expose students to the pivotal role of veterinarians in public policy, advocacy, legislation and regulation at the national level. Through a sponsorship from Merck Animal Health, a stipend of $2,000 is available to cover travel and lodging expenses for each student selected. Interested students should complete application materials that can be found here and sent to Dr. Marie Bucko (email@example.com) by Dec. 20, 2021. (Click here for more information)
PORK PRODUCERS ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN NPPC’S ‘GIVE-A-HAM’ CHALLENGE
NPPC’s fourth annual national “Give-A-Ham” challenge to benefit food banks and pantries around the country is in its final month, and the organization is urging pork producers to participate in it. The campaign in 2020 saw more than 15 million pounds of pork donated to help those in need.
APPLICATIONS FOR PORK INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIPS BEING ACCEPTED
NPPC is accepting applications for the 2022 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship, which is sponsored by CME Group and managed and administered by NPPC. The program, introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC and named in 2006 in honor of the late-NPPC board member Lois Britt, awards $2,500 scholarships annually to 10 college students who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry. All entries must be sent by Jan. 3, 2022, to be accepted. (Click here for more information, including where to submit applications.)