For the Week Ending January 8, 2021
COVID RELIEF PACKAGE, GOV’T SPENDING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
In late December, President Trump signed into law the $2.3 trillion combined COVID relief package and an omnibus appropriations bill which funds the government through Sept. 30. Several high-priority NPPC asks were included in these measures: $635 million to ensure U.S. agriculture inspectors are fully funded; extension of livestock mandatory price reporting until Sept. 30; $20 million in funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; $284.5 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which removes restrictive language that prevented some pork producers from eligibility; and funding to compensate hog farmers who were forced to euthanize animals due to COVID-related supply chain disruptions. NPPC appreciates that Congress recognized the severe financial dislocations caused to hog farmers by COVID-19, and will work to ensure all producers benefit from these provisions. NPPC also thanks Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) for their role in shaping the pork-related provisions in this legislation. “I am glad we were able to come together and include the Relief for Producers Act in the omnibus bill to provide a framework for livestock and poultry farmers and ease burdens brought on by the pandemic,” said Sen. Inhofe. “COVID-19 has put a major strain on production cycles, and relief is desperately needed….I am pleased to say this bill will help producers in Oklahoma and across the nation recover and navigate a way forward.”
NEXT ROUND OF PPP RE-OPENS MONDAY
On Monday, Jan. 11, the Small Business Administration will restart accepting applications for its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Among changes from previous rounds, PPP eligibility for sole proprietors filing a schedule F form will now be calculated using 2019 gross income instead of net profit. For many U.S. pork producers, 2019 was not profitable as they bore the brunt of trade retaliation in China and Mexico, among two of our largest export markets. NPPC had been advocating to ensure all hog farmers could access the program.
NPPC HERALDS PROPOSAL GIVING USDA PRIMARY OVERSIGHT OVER GENE-EDITED LIVESTOCK
For more than two years, NPPC had been the leading advocate for USDA to have primary oversight over gene-edited livestock. In late December, that became closer to reality when USDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that the agency, not the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), would have primary regulatory authority. While many changes made through gene editing could be achieved through conventional breeding, gene editing is a promising new technology that can help farmers breed healthier, more resilient animals. However, the cost and timeframe for approval of these type of edits is prohibitive under FDA’s intention to regulate the genome as a new animal drug. “FDA regulation of gene editing would have resulted in an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. Thankfully, that is not the administration’s intended plan. This announcement represents a critical milestone to ensuring American agriculture maintains its global competitive edge,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis. There is a 60-day comment period on the proposal, closing on Feb. 26. NPPC will be submitting comments and looks forward to USDA and FDA promptly signing a formal agreement on the regulation of this promising new technology in livestock. Read NPPC’s full press release here.
NPPC PARTICIPATES IN ROUNDTABLE WITH EPA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE REGAN
On Tuesday, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks and 15 other members of the Ag CEO Council held a virtual roundtable with EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan. During the meeting, the group “discussed how the incoming Biden-Harris Administration will work closely with agricultural producers to find practical, common sense solutions to environmental challenges, to create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural communities through the Build Back Better plan, and to harness the ingenuity of farmers and ranchers to promote clean energy and tackle climate change,” according to a summary posted on the president-elect’s website. Regan’s grandfather was a farmer in Bladen County, N.C., who raised hogs and planted corn, tobacco, peanuts and soybeans. NPPC looks forward to working with Regan on issues of importance to U.S. pork producers.
NPPC CONCERNED ABOUT VIETNAM CURRENCY INVESTIGATION
If the Trump administration’s investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices leads to tariffs on Vietnamese imports, that “leaves U.S. hog farmers vulnerable to more retaliation,” NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba testified last week at a U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) virtual public hearing. USTR recently began a Section 301 investigation into allegations that Vietnam manipulated its currency for unfair trade advantages. NPPC has worked with the Trump administration on efforts to expand market access to Vietnam. From 2015-2019, U.S. pork exports to Vietnam increased 370 percent, and in the first ten months of 2020, exports have increased 246 percent, to $50 million from the same period a year ago. Zieba made similar remarks on Thursday during a meeting hosted by the Washington International Trade Association. A copy of her USTR remarks is available here.
NPPC PLEASED DIETARY GUIDELINES REPORT HIGHLIGHTS MEAT’S ROLE IN HEALTHY AMERICAN DIET
Last week, USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly issued the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated every five years, the guidelines provide science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, help reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. NPPC is pleased the report continues to highlight the important role that meat plays in ensuring sufficient protein in the American diet. Pork is a lean, nutrient-dense source of protein that can provide essential nutrients to Americans across all life stages. NPPC thanks USDA and HHS for highlighting the role pork plays in a healthy diet. Read the dietary guidelines here.
NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano will moderate a panel on Tuesday, Jan. 12, set to discuss China trade issues and the challenges and opportunities for the United States, other nations, and the World Trade Organization. The virtual panel is sponsored by the Global Business Dialogue.