For the Week Ending July 24, 2020
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION URGENTLY NEEDED TO HELP HOG FARMERS IN CRISIS
NPPC’s top priority is a new COVID congressional relief package that includes much-needed financial assistance to U.S. pork producers in crisis. On Monday, NPPC held a media briefing, outlining the unprecedented emergency that U.S. hog farmers face as a result of COVID-related challenges and urged swift congressional action to address this crisis. “We’re going to lose a lot of hog farmers – small, medium, and large; the question is how many. That’s going to depend on not only the continued impact of COVID, but on what the federal government is able to provide by the way of support,” NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano told more than 50 reporters during the press conference. NPPC is urging the Senate to include the RELIEF for Producers Act of 2020—providing a critical lifeline to U.S. hog farmers—in the next COVID relief package. Read more about the press conference here. In related news, U.S. Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Senate leadership this week, urging help to pork producers in the upcoming COVID package. NPPC thanks Sens. Smith, Klobuchar and Durbin for seeking critical help to U.S. pork producers, many of whom are struggling to weather this crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to release the COVID package on Monday. It’s expected to include compensation to livestock producers for pandemic-related losses, as well as direct payments to farmers.
HOUSE PASSES FY20201 AGRICULTURE SPENDING BILL
On Friday, the U.S. House passed a four-bill, $259.5 billion fiscal year 2021 spending package (H.R. 7608) that includes $24 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Among details, the agriculture bill includes: $1.07 billion—$27 million above the 2020 enacted level—for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and $3.3 billion—$92 million above the 2020 enacted level—for the Agriculture Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The House adopted a package of amendments on Thursday, including one that would prevent USDA from carrying out the Defense Production Act to keep meatpacking plants online during a pandemic. The overall spending bill also includes funding for Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and State-Foreign Operations. It’s unclear when the Senate plans to address the spending measures.
U.S. TRADE TALKS WITH KENYA, UK DELAYED DUE TO COVID
While the U.S. continues to pursue trade agreements with Kenya and the UK, negotiations are being delayed due to the COVID worldwide pandemic. This week, the U.S. and Kenya temporarily paused trade talks due to concerns that Kenyan officials were possibly exposed to COVID. The two countries began trade talks earlier this week. In late April, NPPC submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on a trade deal between the two countries, noting that an agreement has the potential for a significant increase in the demand for U.S. pork products, but import duties and all non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork need to be fully eliminated. Meantime, COVID is also being blamed for delaying trade talks between the U.S. and the UK. Trade negotiations formally began in May and both sides were hopeful for an agreement ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. 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.
USDA ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO LIVESTOCK GROSS MARGIN INSURANCE PROGRAM
On Monday, USDA’s Rick Management Agency (RMA) announced changes to the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance program for cattle and swine, beginning in the 2021 crop year. Changes include adding premium subsidies to assist producers. Specifically, subsidies have been added and are based on the deductible selected by the producer. For LGM-swine, the subsidy will range from 18 percent with 0 deductible, up to 50 percent with a deductible of $12 or greater. NPPC is supportive of the changes announced and believes it allows eligible producers an improved risk option in the long term. For more information, click here.