For the Week Ending January 21, 2022
GROUPS SEEK LEGAL REMEDIES TO STOP PROP. 12
The U.S. Supreme Court today was set to consider whether to take the NPPC-American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) case challenging California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale in California of pork from hogs born to sows raised anywhere in housing that does not meet the state’s arbitrary standards, after the decision was put off for a second week. Prop. 12 took effect Jan. 1. The NPPC-AFBF case, which argues that Prop. 12 violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, limiting states’ ability to regulate commerce outside their borders, originally was to be considered at a Jan. 7 conference but was relisted to last Friday, then postponed again. In a related matter, several California business groups, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, have sued to stop implementation of Prop. 12. The Superior Court in Sacramento this week heard the groups’ request to delay the initiative until 28 months after regulations on it are finalized.
WILL SUPREME COURT HEAR ‘WOTUS’ CASE?
In addition to its case against California’s Prop. 12, NPPC is watching for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear a case involving “waters of the United States.” It stems from a 2004 order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stopping Michael and Chantell Sackett from building on their land because of the presence of “wetlands.” The Supreme Court is being asked to clarify EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
VILSACK ADDRESSES STATE OF RURAL ECONOMY
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week testified on the state of the rural economy before the House Committee on Agriculture, noting that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges, net farm income in 2021 grew by 23% to nearly $117 billion, and agricultural exports were a record $172.2 billion. He said the 2022 outlook for continued growth in farm exports is positive and demand for U.S. agricultural products remains strong domestically and internationally. But, he said, the pandemic has exposed a “rigid, fragile, and consolidated food system” that has led to bottlenecks and supply constraints. To address those and other challenges, Vilsack said, USDA will focus on creating more and better market opportunities, addressing climate change, advancing racial justice, equity and opportunity and tackling food and nutrition insecurity. (Click here to read his entire testimony.)
ANTITRUST SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON MEATPACKING CONSOLIDATION
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Wednesday held a hearing on the effects of consolidation on America’s food supply, with a focus on concentration in the meatpacking sector and its impact on consumer prices. Democrats on the panel argued that consolidation in the meatpacking industry has led to recent meat price increases, while Republicans claimed loose monetary policy and supply chain problems have caused the hikes. In a December report on retail pork prices economists with Iowa State University, North Carolina State University and NPPC found prices have risen because of a lagged response to high wholesale prices during the summer, increased transportation costs, supply bottlenecks and delays and increased labor costs throughout the pork chain. Other factors included a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing capacity that resulted from a federal court order stopping faster harvesting line speeds, higher energy costs, rising feed costs and a shortage of workers, which has hindered productivity and caused wages to increase.
RCEP GOES INTO FORCE
The trade agreement creating the world’s largest trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), went into force earlier this month. Consisting of nearly a third of the globe’s population and about 30% of its GDP, the RCEP includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and covers trade in goods, services, investment and economic and technical cooperation, among other issues. Seven of the 15 nations also are part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which NPPC has been urging the Biden administration to join. The 11-country CPTPP has almost 500 million consumers and $13.5 trillion of GDP.
NPPC JOINS GROUP TO PREVENT SPREAD OF ASF IN WESTERN HEMISPHERE
NPPC this week joined an international group dedicated to preventing the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in the Americas. The pig-only disease last year was detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in 40 years, being confirmed in hogs on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. NPPC united with 21 other organizations from 18 Latin American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela – to form the ASF Prevention America Committee to discuss efforts to combat the disease.
NPPC’s ZIEBA TO SPEAK AT INTERNATIONAL TRADE CONFERENCE
NPPC Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Maria Zieba will speak on trade issues at the Washington International Trade Association’s 2022 conference, which will be held 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 31 and 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 1. With the theme “Managing a New Era in Trade,” the virtual event will look at, among other topics, multilateral trade, U.S.-China trade, supply chain disruptions and the Biden administration’s trade agenda. In addition to Zieba, among other scheduled speakers are the ambassadors to the United States from Canada, the European Union and Japan and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. NPPC is a sponsor of the event. (For more information on and to purchase tickets for the conference, click here.)