For the Week Ending July 27, 2018
|NPPC AND OTHER GROUPS ASK PRESIDENT TRUMP TO RESOLVE LABORATORY PROTEIN DEBATE|
NPPC and other meat and livestock organizations sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him to take a stand on the regulatory dispute over lab-produced cultured protein. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are seeking regulatory authority. In the letter to the president, NPPC and other livestock groups said, ““Protecting the health and welfare of consumers is our top priority and this goal is achieved under a comprehensive regulatory system administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). That system ensures all meat and poultry products are held to the same rigorous food safety and labeling standards. Anything less is a grave disservice to consumers and producers.” More detail on NPPC’s position on alternative protein regulation can be found in this “Meat of the Matter” white paper and this press release. In a related matter, the European Court of Justice this week ruled that gene-edited plants and animals will be regulated under the European Union’s Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Directive, a move likely to disrupt U.S. exports of gene-edited products to the EU. The GMO Directive regulates all forms of genetic engineering in the EU.
CHANGES TO THE H-2A VISA PROGRAM; VOTE POSTPONED ON H-2C PROGRAM
The House Appropriations Committee this week adopted an amendment allowing farmers to use the H-2A visa program for year-round workers as opposed to strictly seasonal labor. The provision, which needs to be included in the final fiscal 2019 spending bill before it becomes law, increases the potential labor supply for U.S. pork and other livestock farmers currently facing a worker shortage. Earlier in the week, the House said it will not hold a vote any earlier than after the summer congressional recess on the “Ag and Legal Workforce Act.” Similar to the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee last fall, the new bill would establish a year-round visa program – H-2C – for foreign agricultural workers and require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the United States. The H-2C visa program would significantly expanding the pool of potential farm workers and processing plant workers. NPPC continues to support visa reform efforts that will provide a strong, viable workforce for America’s pork producers.
TRUMP ADMINSTRATION UNVEILS $12 BILLION FARMER AID PACKAGE DURING BUSY TRADE WEEK
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a program to deliver $12 billion of relief to American farmers facing foreign retaliation from global trade disputes. The program will provide relief in the form direct payments to producers, food purchases and trade expansion. NPPC President Jim Heimerl issued this statement in response to the relief package. Other trade news this week included:
NPPC continues to advocate aggressively for the restoration of trade with China and Mexico, a successfully renegotiated NAFTA and an expansion of export opportunities through new free trade agreements.
EPA SIGNS RULES TO ALIGN EMISSIONS REGULATIONS WITH FARM ACT
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler this week signed a farm emissions reporting rule to comply with those outlined in the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act signed into law in March 2018. The rule changes exempt U.S. pork producers and other livestock farmers from reporting emissions generated from the routine handling of manure. In addition, the EPA removed the outdated definitions of “farm” and “animal waste” from its regulations and added revised versions of these terms to align with the FARM Act. NPPC, as a supporter of the FARM Act, applauds the agency’s changes.
LAWMAKERS WORKING ON FINAL FARM BILL
Senate and House lawmakers are expected to meet soon to hammer out differences in their respective 2018 Farm Bills. The House has selected its conference committee representatives, which can be found here, and the Senate is expected to identify its conference members soon. NPPC will be urging those lawmakers to fully fund a vaccine bank to address an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease and to keep in the final bill a provision that would prohibit states from regulating agriculture practices in other states.