For the Week Ending January 12, 2018
USDA RULE ALLOWS PORK IMPORTS FROM MEXICO
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today finalized a regulation that will allow all Mexican states to export pork to the United States, a move supported by the NPPC. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is implementing a science-based risk assessment that determined Mexico is free of Classical Swine Fever (CSF), highly contagious viral disease in pigs. It was eradicated from the United States in the late 1970s. APHIS in 2016 concluded that the risk of CSF from pork imports from Mexico is negligible. NPPC is a strong supporter of using epidemiological science and risk analyses to determine if trade can be safely conducted between countries. Mexico in late 2007 requested market access to the United States for pork from the eight states in its central region but later amended that request to include all Mexican states. APHIS at that time conducted multiple reviews and determined Mexico’s control program for CSF was not sufficient to classify the country as negligible risk for the disease. But because of the importance to the United States of the trade relationship with Mexico, USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service provided funding through a Global Based Initiative to assist that country with improving its control program. Through the grant, Mexican officials received training in foreign animal disease diagnostics at USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center and further in-country training on case management and control activities. A subsequent review by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) determined that Mexico was free of CSF. Mexico is the No. 2 export market for the U.S. pork industry, which through November last year shipped $1.4 billion of pork to that country.
TRUMP ADDRESSES FARMERS; RURAL PROSPERITY REPORT RELEASED
President Trump, in a speech Monday at the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, unveiled recommendations from his Rural Prosperity Task Force to revitalize rural America. The task force report calls for initiatives to increase broadband access, improve infrastructure, reform the nation’s visa program for foreign labor and ensure access to international markets. In his remarks, Trump discussed trade, including his administration’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “To level the playing field for our great American exporters – our farmers and ranchers, as well as our manufacturers – we are reviewing all of our trade agreements to make sure they are fair and reciprocal,” said Trump. The task force recommended maintaining and expanding trade agreements. NPPC has been urging the Trump administration to maintain zero-duty market access for U.S. pork exports to Mexico and Canada. Losing those NAFTA markets would cost the pork industry $1.5 billion. NPPC hailed the task force recommendation for addressing agriculture’s labor shortage. The organization supports visa reform that makes it easier for employers in the pork industry to hire foreign workers.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES MAKE KEY APPOINTMENTS
Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., have joined the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Fischer, who has served in the Senate since 2013, is taking the place of Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., who lost the Republican primary for a special election in early December. Smith succeeds Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who resigned his seat as of Jan. 2; she formerly served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor. Among the committee’s major tasks this year is authorizing a new five-year Farm Bill; the current one expires Sept. 30. NPPC is urging congressional lawmakers to include in the next Farm bill language establishing and funding a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank. In the House, Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., has been appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, pending approval of the House Republican Conference. The committee has jurisdiction over taxes and trade. LaHood is filling the vacancy left by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, who is resigning from the committee.
PORK SLAUGHTER RULE ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINAL
The White House Office of Management of Budget this week cleared the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule, the last step in the rule-making process before the regulation is finalized. Also known as the HACCP Inspection Models Project, or HIMP, the rule would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service to better focus its inspection resources and partner with the pork industry to ensure safe products are entering the food supply. It shifts certain food-safety responsibilities from federal inspectors to packing plant workers. NPPC strongly supports the regulation, which will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process and allow for the rapid adoption of new food-safety technologies in pork slaughter. It also has the potential to increase U.S. hog slaughter capacity. Currently, five U.S. pork packing plants are participating in HIMP pilot projects.
BILL ADDRESSING U.S. BORDER SECURITY, IMMIGRATION, AGRICULTURAL LABOR SHORTAGE INTRODUCED
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Reps. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., this week introduced the “Securing America’s Future Act,” legislation to increase border security, improve and expand ports of entry, hire additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and officers and address the current agricultural labor shortage. The measure includes Goodlatte’s “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (AG Act), which the Judiciary Committee approved late last year. The AG Act would create a new visa program – H-2C – that allows non-seasonal agricultural workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for “touchbacks” to their country. Workers would need to return to their homeland for one month for every year in America. NPPC supports efforts, including the AG Act, to deal with agriculture’s labor issues. See this Hogs on The Hill blog post by NPPC’s Dustin Baker for more commentary.
RUSSIA TO FIGHT EU TRADE SANCTIONS RELATED TO PORK
Russia this week said it will fight a European Union (EU) request of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose retaliatory trade sanctions on Moscow over its ban on pork imports. (The WTO last year ruled that the ban was illegal.) Russia in January 2014 imposed the ban ostensibly because of a few cases of African Swine Fever in Lithuania and Poland. While the prohibition technically was lifted in February 2017, Russia has maintained it in response to the EU’s July 2014 sanctions against Moscow over Russia’s “annexation” of Ukraine.
DEADLINE FOR FARMERS TO REPORT AIR EMISSIONS APPROACHING
Livestock and poultry farms that meet certain thresholds will need to report certain air emissions, beginning Jan. 22. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April 2017 rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. The court late last year pushed back the reporting deadline after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency– supported by a brief from NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association – asked it to delay the mandate so that the agency could have “more time to provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions and to develop a system that allows farmers to comply with their legal obligations.”
STATE PORK ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETINGS ROLL ON
Throughout January and February, many state pork associations will host their annual meetings. For more on the meetings, visit NPPC’s website here.
NPPC TO ATTEND ASF MEETINGS IN EUROPE
Joining officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, NPPC chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and Director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary and Technical Issues Courtney Knupp this week traveled to Denmark, Germany and Poland for meetings Jan. 15-19 with veterinarians and pork industry representatives in those countries. They will discuss efforts in those nations to protect pigs from African Swine Fever (ASF) and plans to detect and respond to an ASF outbreak. Their findings could be used for an ASF prevention plan for the U.S. pork industry. The disease does not exist in the United States.
FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION HEARING ON PORT FEES SET
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) will host a hearing Jan. 16-17 on a detention and demurrage petition filed in December 2016 by the Coalition for Fair Port Practices. NPPC is a member of the coalition, which has asked the FMC to promulgate a new rule prohibiting terminal operators and shipping lines from charging detention, demurrage and per diem fees when circumstances – such as labor disputes – don’t allow cargo to be picked up or dropped off within contracted times. The hearing, held in Washington, D.C., is open to the public
U.S. AG CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE DUE FEB. 5
The 2017 Census of Agriculture recently received by American farmers and ranchers, including U.S. pork producers, is a questionnaire distributed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The questionnaire can be returned via mail or by online submission forms. All submissions are due Feb. 5, 2018.