For the Week Ending July 14, 2017
GROUPS URGE ADMINISTRATION NOT TO RESTRICT STEEL IMPORTS
NPPC and 17 other agricultural groups this week in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urged the Trump administration not to restrict through tariffs imports of steel and aluminum. The restrictions would be imposed as a national security measure, according to the administration, which has raised concerns about U.S. reliance on imported steel for defense systems. NPPC is concerned that import tariffs on the metals could prompt retaliatory duties on U.S. exports, including agricultural products. The administration is expected to make a decision soon on whether to invoke a 1962 trade law that allows presidents to restrict imports that threaten national security.
POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS ON HOURS OF SERVICE REGULATIONS
Language supported by NPPC included in a funding bill approved this week by the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development would delay for one year a requirement that truckers hauling livestock use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track their hours of service. The delay allows the livestock industry to work with the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop a more reasonable way to regulate the transportation of livestock as it pertains to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which limit driving time to 11 hours and “on-duty” time to 14 hours. The FMCSA also released a new and favorable interpretation of an agriculture exemption intended to address shortcomings of the HOS rules. Based on the interpretation, commercial truck operators hauling livestock within a 150 air-mile radius of the source of an agricultural commodity (i.e., the location at which pigs are loaded on a truck) is exempt from the HOS rules and any distance-logging requirements.
SWINE VETERINARIAN TOOK THEIR ISSUES TO THE ‘HILL’
Swine veterinarians from around the country, participating in NPPC’s Swine Veterinarians Public Policy Advocacy Program, this week came to Washington, D.C., to educate their members of Congress on important pork industry issues. The 17 swine veterinarians visited 34 members of congress in a two day period where their No. 1 ask of lawmakers was to include in the 2018 Farm Bill language establishing a vaccine bank to deal with an outbreak in the United States of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). Elanco Animal Health and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians both supported this event.
HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES FISCAL 2018 SPENDING BILL
The House Appropriations Committee this week approved the fiscal 2018 agricultural spending bill, which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The measure includes money for agricultural and food programs and services, including food and medical product safety, animal and plant health programs, rural development and farm services, agricultural trade, financial marketplace oversight and nutrition programs. It also has provisions to rein in “burdensome overregulation that harms U.S. food producers and impedes growth in industries important to our economy,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.”
HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE HEARINGS HELD
The House Committee on Agriculture this week held a hearing titled The Next Farm Bill: Technology & Innovation in Specialty Crops. The committee heard recommendations for improving public-private partnerships and on innovations for specialty crops producers. Notable witnesses included American Seed Trade Association President and CEO Andy LaVigne, who stressed the importance of science-based research and policies. In addition, the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management hosted a hearing titled, The Future of Farming: Technological Innovations, Opportunities and Challenges for Producers. In this hearing witnesses presented the opportunities and challenges that arise from new technology in agriculture.
CENSKY NOMINATED FOR THE ROLE OF DEPUTY SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
President Trump late Thursday announced his selection of Stephen Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association (ASA), for the position of deputy secretary of Agriculture. Censky, who has been the CEO of ASA since 1996, worked at the USDA under both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, becoming administrator of the agency’s Foreign Agriculture Service in 1992. At ASA, Censky has made export market expansion one of his priorities. The nomination will be considered by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry before advancing to the full Senate for a vote.
WASDE REPORT RELEASED
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report Thursday, which provides the latest projections for production, prices, imports, exports and per capita consumption for nearly all commodities, including pork. Total red meat production is expected to increase 4.3 percent in 2017 and another 2.8 percent in 2018. Pork production for 2017, estimated at 25.8 billion pounds, was lowered slightly from last month, with slightly lower midyear slaughter and lower carcass weights outweighing higher fourth quarter 2016 slaughter. Production for 2018 also was lowered from June’s estimate. Next year’s forecast of 26.7 billion pounds of pork would represent a 3.5 percent increase over 2017. Export and import estimates were unchanged from last month, with 2017 pork exports expected to post a nearly 10 percent gain over 2016. Hog price projections for 2017 and 2018 were raised to $49-$53 and $46-$49 per carcass weight hundred, respectively, on strong domestic and export demand.
CODEX MEETING IN GENEVA NEXT WEEK
The U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food-safety standards-setting body, will hold its annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland next week. NPPC’s Courtney Knupp, deputy director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary & Technical Issues, will attend as a member of the U.S. delegation on pertinent Codex committees.
NATIONAL PORK BOARD TO HOST PIG WELFARE SYMPOSIUM
The National Pork Board this week announced it will host its first-ever Pig Welfare Symposium Nov. 7-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event, which will provide a forum for sharing ideas, learning from various segments of the pork industry and fostering dialogue on pig welfare-related issues, is open to all pork industry stakeholders, including producers, veterinarians, packers, processors and allied industry partners. Registration for the symposium is now open, with early-bird rates ending Aug. 1. For more information or to register, visit pork.org/pws.