For the Week Ending January 17, 2020

Spread the love
This week, the U.S. and China signed the first phase of a trade deal that includes the purchase of $40 billion in agricultural products, including pork. On Wednesday, President Trump held a signing ceremony at the White House, which was also attended by NPPC President David Herring and Board Member Craig Andersen. “NPPC applauds the administration for its hard work in negotiating this deal. China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork. However, the country’s hog supply has been ravaged by African swine fever — a disease affecting only pigs with no human health or food safety risks — resulting in a tremendous shortage of pork and mounting food price inflation,” said Herring. While this is a good first step, U.S. pork exports continue to be suppressed because of the country’s 60 percent punitive tariffs. NPPC is urging China to eliminate all tariffs on U.S. pork for at least five years. According to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, if U.S. pork gets unrestricted access to the Chinese market, it will reduce the overall U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, generate 184,000 new U.S. jobs and produce $24.5 billion in new pork exports, all within the next decade. To read the full NPPC release, click here

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers. “Ratification of USMCA has been a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), and we thank members of the Senate who supported this critical trade deal,” said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. The Senate approved the trade agreement by an 89-10 vote. “USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. It received strong support in both chambers of Congress, and we look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law.” In 2018, Canada and Mexico took more than 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States and a similar volume is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs. To read the full NPPC press release, click here

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced on Thursday the progress it’s making to implement programs funded by the 2018 Farm Bill, including moving forward with developing a Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank, one of NPPC’s top priorities of 2020. Specifically, APHIS is awarding $10.2 million to support disease prevention and emergency response training. As part of this funding, APHIS is moving forward with developing the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. The first priority of the bank is to increase the U.S. stockpile of FMD vaccines. Last year, APHIS’ 30-day sources sought notice for FMD vaccines closed, with seven responses reviewed by the agency. APHIS is now issuing a request for proposals, and plans to have the initial FMD vaccine contracts in place by the end of the second quarter of FY2020. The agency’s goal is to invest between $15 million and $30 million on the vaccine by the end of this year. Currently, the USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with an FMD outbreak, does not have access to enough vaccine to avoid devastating economic consequences to the U.S. economy, should an outbreak occur. These initiatives are critically important to pork producers in their efforts to prevent the introduction of foreign animal diseases and maintain the high level of health in the U.S. swine herd. NPPC has been advocating for USDA to move as quickly as possible to establish an FMD vaccine bank and is grateful to APHIS for its efforts to begin implementation of these programs.   

January is National Biotechnology Month and last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency to create a collaborative tool for all three agencies to work on modernizing agricultural biotechnology regulation. In an opinion piece that ran in Agri-Pulse on Tuesday, NPPC board member Phil Borgic wrote that he hopes FDA’s participation in this collaborative tool unlocks the current stalemate over regulatory oversight on a vital new technology: gene editing. “Around the world, countries are experimenting, implementing, and – importantly – properly regulating gene editing in livestock. China has been pursuing gene editing since 2016, while Brazil, Canada, and Argentina are advancing the technology. Unfortunately, the future of gene editing is uncertain in the United States due to an archaic regulatory framework being advanced by FDA, stymying advancement and putting our competitors in the driver’s seat of agricultural innovation. Currently, the FDA has regulatory control over this technology, but the USDA is the only agency equipped to regulate gene editing in livestock,” he wrote. NPPC hopes FDA’s participation in the coordinated biotechnology process means it’s ready to yield oversight for livestock to USDA. To view the op ed, click here