For the Week Ending June 3, 2022

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Late last week, McDonald’s shareholders rejected Carl Icahn’s bid to get two animal-rights activists on the fast-food restaurant’s board. The billionaire investor wants to force the company to stop buying pork from hog farmers who use individual pens for sows. Several other food firms, including Wendy’s, Papa John’s, and Dine Brands Global, which owns Applebee’s and IHOP, recently have rebuffed similar moves. NPPC, which has worked with the restaurant industry to address concerns it has with pork production practices, supports the right of producers to use sow housing systems that are best for their animals and operations. It has pointed out that the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians both recognize individual and group housing as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.

The Biden administration this week unveiled its plan to create a “fairer, more competitive, more resilient” food system. USDA’s Food System Transformation framework calls for investing $2.1 billion in programs that will make the food system “more distributed and local”; create local market options; ensure all consumers are able to access fresh, healthy, nutritious food; and let rural, underserved, and poor communities keep more of the food system dollars. Among the programs, USDA will provide $375 million for independent meat and poultry processing plant projects, $275 million in capital for lenders to finance independent processors, $100 million to support a pipeline of well-trained workers and safe workplaces in the processing sector, and $600 million to improve food supply chain infrastructure, including independently owned cold storage, processing, and distribution facilities. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, who announced the framework Wednesday, noted that USDA’s Meat & Poultry Processing Expansion Program, which was announced last July, already has more than 200 applications. Additionally, the agency made available last week $200 million in grant funding for certain lenders to finance startup, expansion, and operation of meat and poultry harvesting and processing facilities. NPPC supports USDA’s efforts to expand packing capacity, which would create greater demand for U.S. hogs.

The United States and Taiwan Wednesday announced they soon will begin negotiations on improving their economic and trade relationship. Representatives from the two countries are expected to meet later this month. The “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade” will help facilitate more trade, including agricultural trade and trade by small and medium enterprises; advocate sound, transparent trade regulations; establish anti-corruption standards; support the environment and climate action; and address “non-market” policies and practices that could be hindering trade. The announcement comes a week after the Biden administration launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an Asia-Pacific trade initiative that does not include Taiwan. NPPC is encouraged by the trade talks with Taiwan and hopes they will resolve a number of longstanding trade issues between the island nation and the United States.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week met with President Biden in Washington to discuss trade between her country and the United States and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S.-led trade initiative launched last week by the Biden administration. It was rumored that Ardern also might broach a U.S.-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to blunt China’s trade overtures in the region. Currently, the Kiwis have only a trade and investment framework agreement with the United States. (TIFAs provide strategic frameworks and principles for dialogue, providing a forum for the United States and other governments to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest with the objective of improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment.) The prime minister also met with members of Congress, urging lawmakers to ask the administration to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. The 11-member CPTPP, which includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, is the successor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which the United States was a part until withdrawing in early 2017. NPPC, which supports the United States joining the CPTPP, would welcome a U.S.-New Zealand FTA with unrestricted market access. Under the TIFA, only certain U.S. pork products can be imported into New Zealand.

NPPC this week submitted comments on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed performance standards for Salmonella in raw ground and mechanically separated pork and raw pork cuts. FSIS would assess whether establishments producing those products are effectively addressing Salmonella, using a moving window of sampling results. After the new standards have been in place for a year, FSIS would categorize each establishment and post its performance online. In its comments, NPPC pointed out that reducing Salmonella requires a multi-pronged approach and noted that despite significant research into pre-harvest controls, unlike poultry, interventions in slaughter establishments still are the only proven consistent means to reduce salmonella in pork. NPPC suggested that, like the poultry industry, the pork industry be allowed to experiment with new or existing pathogen control and measurement strategies in addressing Salmonella. The organization also was critical of the sampling methodology and data used in risk assessments employed by FSIS. (Click here to read NPPC’s comments.)

NPPC Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Maria Zieba on Wednesday participated in a media discussion on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a U.S.-led trade initiative launched last week by the Biden administration. The event hosted by Farmers for Free Trade, an agriculture trade advocacy group that includes NPPC, also included former Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chaired, respectively, the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee; Corn Refiners Association CEO John Bode; and Joey Fernandes, a dairy farmer from Tulare, California. Zieba praised the administration for wanting closer ties to countries in the Asia-Pacific region — the fastest-growing in the world — but urged it to negotiate trade deals that give U.S. producers better market access through the elimination of tariffs on and non-tariff barriers to American goods. NPPC recently has worked to get more market access in the region, negotiating deals with India, the Philippines and Vietnam.


NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo kicks off next Wednesday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. For more information about and to register for the world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition, click here.