For the Week Ending June 7, 2019

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U.S. and Mexican government officials met several times this week to discuss and possibly head off looming tariffs on Mexico imports that will go into effect on Monday, June 10. In late May, President Trump announced plans to impose five percent tariffs on all Mexican imports as of June 10, with tariffs ratcheting up to 25% if Mexico does not stop the flow of Central Americans into the United States to the satisfaction of the administration. Representatives for both countries met Wednesday, Thursday and were scheduled to meet Friday. As of presstime, no agreement had been reached, while President Trump has drafted plans for a new national emergency declaration in order to impose tariffs on Mexico. In an interview with CNBC this week, NPPC President David Herring said, “Producers are extremely concerned about another potential trade retaliation from Mexico. We just got away from the 20% punitive tariffs just a few weeks ago.” Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion. NPPC urges we move past these tariffs by ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China. Additionally, NPPC this afternoon signed onto a statement issued by organizations representing a cross-section of U.S. economic sectors addressing the importance of tariff-free trade in North America as a cornerstone of U.S. economic growth. “Tariffs on Mexican imports would harm U.S. consumers, workers, farmers and businesses of all sizes across all sectors, making us less competitive and undermining efforts to negotiate strong trade deals in the future. We oppose unilateral tariffs and any subsequent retaliation,” according to the joint statement, initiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said.


On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms. The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act, fixed a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component. The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups. EPA’s new rule exempts farmers from having to make reports to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – an adjunct to CERCLA – that they have “hazardous” emissions on their farms. The rule “is the final piece in the implementation of the FARM Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and eliminated the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure,” said NPPC President David Herring, and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. Read NPPC’s full release here.


A proposed rule released Wednesday would exempt genetically engineered crops from USDA regulation. The proposal would exempt crops that have biotech traits that can be created through traditional breeding techniques. NPPC applauds USDA for a common-sense, pro-innovation approach. We urge USDA to follow the same approach for gene editing in pigs. Gene editing is an animal health breakthrough that will dramatically enhance animal care and food safety in America. Currently, the practice is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. This puts American farmers at a disadvantage, making this innovation unavailable to them while competitors around the world can realize its potential. We urge the administration to move regulatory oversight of gene editing in animals from the FDA to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. APHIS, which already regulates gene editing in plants, can ensure a proper, risk-based regulatory review under the Animal Health Protection Act. NPPC is leading the fight in Washington, D.C. for reform and making sure the administration knows we need the same for animals. For more on the issue, read our latest Hogs on the Hill blog post here.


On Wednesday, the Senate approved the nomination of Dr. Heath Tarbert to be the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The vote to approve his nomination was 84-9. Tarbert is expected to lead the agency beginning on July 15. NPPC was among signatories on a letter sent earlier this week to Senate leadership that offered a “strong endorsement” of Dr. Tarbert. “Because our members rely on well-functioning agriculture and energy derivate markets—both exchange-traded futures and options, and over-the-counter products—to hedge the commercial risks inherent in agricultural production, processing and marketing, we want to ensure the CFTC is led by a well-qualified chairman. If confirmed, Dr. Tarbert would bring a deep background in financial regulation, along with experience holding important leadership posts in the private and public sector,” the letter noted.


The European Union and South America are close to finalizing a bilateral trade agreement, leaders of the two countries announced on Thursday. The Mercosur bloc, which currently groups together Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, has been in negotiations with the EU since 1999 to establish a trade agreement. Officials from the countries have raised hopes the deal could be finalized by the last week in June, just before a G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.


On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY2020 Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration spending bill, with an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would prevent USDA from finalizing its New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule until the agency’s Inspector General reviews data on the proposal. NPPC continues to support the proposed new system, which has been tested and scrutinized for years, and designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process. In a column by NPPC Director of Science and Technology Dan Kovich in Pork Magazine, he highlights how the new inspection system would increase efficiency and effectiveness, allow for the rapid adoption of new food-safety technology in pork processing and potentially increase U.S. harvest capacity. Unfortunately, some in the media have misreported the intent of the USDA proposal and NPPC has been pushing back on incorrect information. Meantime, the spending bill now awaits a vote on the House floor.