For the Week Ending February 21, 2020

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NPPC Requests Additional ASF-Prevention Measures

To date, the United States has been vigilant in preventing an outbreak of African swine fever, an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health or food safety risks. To ensure the U.S. swine herd remains free of the disease, NPPC and 30 state pork producer associations on Thursday urged U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue take additional measures, including restricting imports of organic soy products for animal feeds from all ASF-positive countries.  “While we are confident in the safety of domestic soy products, we urge Secretary Perdue to use authority under the Animal Health Protection Act to restrict imports of organic soy products from ASF-positive countries to further safeguard our animals and prevent an outbreak that would have devastating, far-reaching economic consequences,” said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. The letter also asked USDA to further explore the merit of restricting all soy products from ASF-positive countries, to enhance its online system that would be used for permitting animal movements if an outbreak occurred and to expand state animal health laboratory testing capacity. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved Senate legislation that authorizes funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent ASF and other foreign animal diseases from entering the United States. The legislation also authorizes 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams. A full copy of NPPC’s press release is available here

China to Allow Importers to Apply for Tariff Exemptions

On Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Finance announced it will allow importers to apply for exemptions from tariffs on nearly 700 U.S. products, including pork. Beginning March 2, importers can apply for one-year tariff exemptions and the ministry will consider an application within three business days. Earlier this month, China announced it would cut tariffs in half on $75 billion of U.S. imports, beginning Feb. 14, slashing tariffs on some U.S. goods from five percent to 10 percent. Punitive tariffs on U.S pork were reduced by five percent, leaving the total duty at 63 percent. NPPC continues to urge China to remove all punitive tariffs on U.S. pork to get us on a level playing with international competitors that are at eight percent. If all restrictions on exports to China were removed, in 10 years, U.S. pork would double sales, create 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly six percent.    

NPPC Joins Ag Groups Launching Sustainability Effort

NPPC joined 20 farm and ranch groups on Wednesday to launch Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF), a coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability. The coalition will serve as a primary resource for lawmakers and policymakers as they consider climate policies. The coalition will share with elected officials, media and the public U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the incredible strides already made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. “Farmers were the original environmentalists..[and] masters of information and technology. It’s that mastery of technology, entrepreneurial spirit, and an advancement of technology that has helped all of agriculture continue to meet and achieve pressing environmental challenges,” said NPPC Assistant Vice President of Domestic Policy and Counsel Michael Formica, speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference announcing the coalition. More about the coalition members, guiding principles and sustainability achievements can be found here

USDA Announces Agriculture Innovation Agenda 

On Thursday, USDA announced its Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. As part of the effort, USDA says it will stimulate innovation so U.S. agriculture can increase production by 40 percent, while reducing its environmental footprint in half by 2050. USDA will seek input from the agricultural community on what innovative technologies and practices are needed to meet these goals. “There have been dramatic advances in efficiency and conservation performance over the past two decades. USDA can assist farmers in accessing and adopting new technologies and practices to help producers meet productivity and environmental goals. To accomplish this, the agency will encourage rapid adoption of cutting-edge technologies and practices, and champion commercialization of innovative technologies in the private sector. To read USDA’s full announcement, visit here.