For the Week Ending January 31, 2020

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President Trump on Wednesday signed into law the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers. Eight National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Board members joined the signing ceremony: President David Herring, Scott Hays (Missouri), Dale Reicks (Iowa), Duane Stateler (Ohio), Lori Stevermer (Minnesota), Kraig Westerbeek (North Carolina), Terry Wolters (Minnesota) and Russell Vering (Nebraska). “USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets and we thank President Trump and his administration for making USMCA a top priority,” said Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. “We look forward to implementation of a trade deal that preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America.” With USMCA now signed into law, NPPC is focused on unrestricted access to China. NPPC urges China to eliminate the 60 percent punitive tariffs and other restrictions on U.S. pork exports. Tariff elimination would more than double annual U.S. pork sales, generate 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the overall trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, all within the next decade. To view a copy of NPPC’s full press release, click here


NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba testified Thursday at a U.S. Trade Representative hearing, urging the administration to withdraw or significantly reduce Thailand’s eligibility for Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits. The GSP program provides duty-free treatment to select goods imported into the United States. The program allows for removal of a country’s benefits if it fails to provide the United States “equitable and reasonable access” to its market. “While Thailand consumes more than one million metric tons of pork annually, it imported no U.S. pork in 2018. That’s because Thailand effectively maintains a ban on U.S. pork. It defends its unwarranted ban on uncooked pork and other pork products by pointing to the use of ractopamine by some U.S. pork producers,” she testified. Thailand maintains a ban on imports of pork produced with ractopamine, despite the approval by its own Ministry of Health for domestic use. “Thailand’s ban on U.S. pork is even more inexplicable when you consider it accepts pork from other international suppliers, including the European Union, Brazil and South Korea….This is astonishing especially when you consider that U.S. pork producers provide 26 billion pounds of safe, wholesome and nutritious meat protein to consumers worldwide. We urge USTR to press Thailand to remove all non-tariff barriers to trade and they accept pork from all USDA-approved facilities,” she added. In 2018, NPPC filed comments urging the Trump administration to withdraw or limit the benefits Thailand received under the preferential trade program. A copy of Zieba’s testimony is here.  


This week, the American Society for Microbiology announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a vaccine against African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. ASF is growing as outbreaks continue throughout China and other parts of Asia. The new experimental vaccine shows promise, but several steps are necessary before being commercially available, which will likely take several years. In the meantime, NPPC is focused on ensuring ASF doesn’t enter the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural inspectors are the first line of defense against diseases and pests at U.S. land, sea and airports, and NPPC supports the addition of 60 new canine teams and 600 additional CBP agricultural inspectors. NPPC also supports funding for additional signage and other awareness mechanisms. 


Research has demonstrated that swine viruses can be transmitted through feed ingredients. In a document issued this week, NPPC, the Swine Health Information Center, the National Pork Board and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians provided revised new information on feed holding times based on research conducted using the African swine fever (ASF) virus. In this update, the holding times to allow for degradation of ASF virus in soybean meal are longer than previously calculated for the Seneca virus. As the document noted, “Implementing additional feed biosecurity practices, such as sourcing from foreign animal disease-free countries of the world and/or adding approved feed mitigant additives to whole feed, will increase feed safety confidence.” Complete information on the research leading to the holding time calculation and the document, “Holding Time Calculations for Feed Ingredients to Mitigate Virus Transmission,” is available here.  


Today, Jan. 31, is the last day that the UK will be a member of the European Union. Earlier in the week, the European Parliament voted to ratify the withdrawal agreement, formally paving the way for Brexit today. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this week the U.S. is focused on a trade deal with the UK by the end of the year. In October 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork.