For the Week Ending July 22, 2022
NPPC Spearheads Letter to Congressional Leaders to Back ‘Beagle Brigade Act’
NPPC spearheaded a letter signed by 52 other agricultural organizations and veterinary groups asking Senate and House leaders for “swift passage” of the “Beagle Brigade Act of 2022” (S. 3678 and H.R. 8432). The legislation would authorize the National Detector Dog Training Center, the primary training facility for dogs used at U.S. ports of entry to detect food, plants, and other host material that can carry foreign pests and diseases. NPPC also issued a statement in support of the measure.
The legislation would provide specific congressional authorization and funds for the Newnan, Georgia, dog training center, which had been operating under USDA’s general authority over animal and plant health, with funding through user fees.
In the July 20 letter, the organizations urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to support S. 3678 and H.R. 8432, respectively, “to guard against national security threats, address public safety risks, and grow the economy.” (Click here to read the letter.)
Philippines Project Launched to Combat ASF, Support U.S. Pork Exports
NPPC President Terry Wolters and Maria Zieba, the organization’s vice president of international affairs, were in Manilla this week, joining USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and leaders from the Philippine Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in launching a new project to address challenges related to African swine fever (ASF) and support safe international trade of U.S. pork products in the Philippines.
The Philippines has ongoing ASF outbreaks and is seeking better ways to control the virus and the resulting food price inflation. NPPC worked with the Philippine embassy in Washington, D.C., to ascertain the needs of the country’s government and producers for ASF outbreak management. NPPC’s international affairs team partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop a proposal for government assistance. FAS approved the proposal and agreed to fund the project in the Philippines and in Vietnam.
The ASF program will support the readiness and transparency of the Philippine animal health services by building the foundation of a risk-based approach to constructing and implementing animal health policies and programs. The program will include workshops for provincial officers and intense in-person training of fellows identified by representatives from the Philippine Department of Agriculture. Participants also will have training based on material developed and delivered in advance of the workshops.
The projects in the Philippines and Vietnam are part of NPPC’s efforts to work with global partners on areas of common interest, including foreign animal diseases. The organization also has been working with USDA to prevent and prepare for a potential ASF outbreak in the United States, which would cause billions in losses and hinder exports of U.S. pork. (Click here to read NPPC’s press release on the Philippines ASF project.)
NPPC Makes Recommendations on APHIS Strategic Plan Framework
NPPC submitted comments on USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s strategic plan framework, the agency’s roadmap for improving programs and services. Among other recommendations, NPPC suggested APHIS:
– Change the government’s grade levels for veterinarians to be more competitive with the private sector and help recent veterinary graduates with student loan debt.
– Include the animal agriculture industry in developing an early warning system to detect emerging and zoonotic diseases.
– Begin the regulatory process of increasing user fees to cover a shortfall in Customs and Border Protection staff needed to conduct inspections for agricultural contraband.
– Increase staff within its Veterinary Services to meet the growing need for negotiating new market access and maintaining existing markets and within its International Services to address sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
– Request additional resources for its Wildlife Services program to meet the growing threat of wildlife diseases.
– Recognize that farm animal welfare is best left to producers and their veterinarians, using the science-based standards of the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.
NPPC commended APHIS for “its foresight in framing future programs and activities around those trends that will drive American agriculture’s long-term productivity.” (Click here to read NPPC’s comments.)
Congress Drops Import Restrictions Provisions from ‘China’ Bill
The “China” bill now appears likely to be simply a “chip” bill, which is fine with NPPC. Based on discussions with the Biden administration, the Senate will abandon provisions that deal with trade generally and China specifically. The focus of the legislation now is mainly $52 billion for U.S. semiconductor manufacturers.
In June 2021, senators passed the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act,” which included help for computer chip makers and changes to U.S. trade law that would make it easier for import-sensitive industries to erect barriers to foreign goods.
NPPC opposed the trade law provision because pork and other agricultural products often are used by trading partners to retaliate for such import restrictions. When the United States in March 2018 put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, for example, Mexico put a duty on U.S. pork exports going there.
The House earlier this year approved a similar broad China bill, but efforts to reconcile the Senate and House measures stalled in the upper chamber when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened to have his GOP members vote against it because of Senate Democrats’ insistence on moving the “Build Back Better” tax and spending legislation. (NPPC opposed several of that bill’s tax changes, such as a 15% corporate alternative minimum tax and expansion of the net investment income tax.)
Now, with the legislative calendar getting short — Congress takes a month-long break in August and likely will be out for campaigning and the elections in October and November — lawmakers in both houses are eager to approve a bill to aid the U.S. semiconductor industry.
ITC Holds Hearings on Economic Impact of Trump-era Tariffs
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) held three days of hearings on the economic impact of the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and on $370 billion of Chinese goods. More than 70 businesses, labor groups, and trade associations testified.
The Americans for Free Trade coalition, which includes NPPC, sent to the commission a prehearing statement, citing its opposition to the tariffs and commending the USITC for investigating the effect of them on the economy. The coalition said it expects the commission will find “the tariffs have negatively impacted our economy and contributed to record high inflation.”
NPPC opposed the duties, rightly predicting countries would retaliate by placing tariffs on sensitive U.S. exports, including pork. Mexico put a 20% tariff and China placed a 25% duty on U.S. pork, for example, in response to the March 2018 imposition of U.S. Section 232 duties on their steel exports to the United States. China also put a 35% tariff on American pork in retaliation for U.S. Section 301 levies on its products. That part of U.S. trade law deals with harmful practices related to technology transfers and intellectual property.
In May, NPPC joined 40 other agricultural groups in urging the Biden administration to suspend, reduce, or eliminate the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs on foreign products coming to the United States in return for commitments from countries to suspend retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.
NPPC’S Forseth Visits Dominican Republic to Observe ASF Efforts
NPPC’s Dr. Anna Forseth traveled to the Dominican Republic with representatives from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Foreign Agricultural Service to learn about the African swine fever (ASF) situation on the island of Hispaniola.
In July 2021, ASF was confirmed in the Dominican Republic and shortly after in Haiti, marking the first time in 40 years a pig-only disease has been in the Western Hemisphere. USDA in September last year dedicated $500 million in Commodity Credit Corporation funds for efforts to combat the disease in the Caribbean island countries and to prevent it from reaching the United States.
NPPC Fall Legislative Fly-in Set
NPPC’s fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., will take place Sept. 14-15. The biannual fly-in draws more than 100 pork producers from around the country to meet with their members of Congress to discuss various issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry.
The Capitol Hill-famous “BaconFest” will return after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions. Pork producers interested in attending should contact NPPC – 515-278-8012 – or their state pork association.