For the Week Ending March 16, 2018
LIVESTOCK HAULERS GRANTED ADDITIONAL WAIVER FROM ELD RULE
In a move applauded by NPPC, the U.S. Department of Transpiration (DOT) on Tuesday granted livestock haulers an additional 90-day waiver from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. The DOT in 2015 issued a regulation that all commercial truckers replace their paper driving logs with the devices, which can cost from $200 to $1,000, by Dec. 18, 2017. The DOT introduced the mandate to enforce its Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which limit commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again. NPPC last week urged DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration administrator Raymond Martinez to grant livestock haulers another waiver from the ELD mandate and for a limited exemption from it. The organization argued that the mandate and HOS rules are incompatible with the animal welfare requirements of the livestock industry. A final decision on the exemption is still pending. The DOT did exempt livestock haulers from complying with the reporting requirements and HOS rules when traveling within a 150-air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded. However, the exemption is not uniformly recognized, and its implementation varies by state. In September 2017, NPPC petitioned the agency for a waiver and exemption from the ELD requirement, and DOT provided an initial 90-day waiver – until March 18.
HOUSE BILL INTRODUCED TO EXEMPT FARMS FROM EMISSIONS REPORTING
A bipartisan bill to exempt farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms was introduced in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a move strongly supported by NPPC. Sponsored by Reps. Billy Long, R-Mo., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., and cosponsored by 85 other House lawmakers, the “Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act” would restore the farm exemption for reporting emissions from manure that was overruled in April 2017 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In its decision, the court rejected the exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA is a law that provides federal funding for cleaning contaminant spills and uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, while EPCRA requires entities to provide reports on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. Early last month, the appeals court granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion for a second extension of the reporting deadline. NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association filed a brief in support of the agency’s request for a delay to May 1 from Jan. 22. The ACRE Act is similar to the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act,” a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate last month.
NPPC COMMENDS DECISION TO WITHDRAW ORGANIC RULE
The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced its decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, a move strongly supported by NPPC. In abandoning the regulation, the USDA determined that it exceeded the scope of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 that was passed to set uniform handling and processing standards for organic production and which confined organic production for livestock strictly to feeding and medication practices. The proposed rule would have incorporated animal welfare standards not based on science into the National Organic Program. The standards would have jeopardized animal and public health while adding complexity to the organic certification process for organic producers, said NPPC. During the public comment period, NPPC pointed out that the standards outlined by the rule were not limited to organic production and are incompatible with disease management practices conducted by producers. The rule was published in January 2017 and will be withdrawn effective May 13, 2018.
CONCERNS MOUNT OVER U.S. TARIFFS ON STEEL, ALUMINUM IMPORTS
A study released this week by The Trade Partnership, a trade and economic consulting firm, estimated that the steel and aluminum tariffs announced by President Trump last week will cost the United States 495,136 jobs in the services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors, up from an earlier estimate of 179,334. The increase reflects the effects of likely retaliation from other nations. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, this week announced that his committee will conduct a hearing – set for March 22 – with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross as a witness, to address the administration’s national security rationale for the tariffs. Set to go into effect March 23, the tariffs will place a 25 percent duty on steel imports and 10 percent levy on aluminum; Australia, Canada and Mexico will be exempt from the tariffs. Last week, the National Foreign Trade Council’s Alliance for Competitive Steel and Aluminum Trade, whose membership includes NPPC, issued a policy paper outlining its members’ concerns with the anticipated impacts of the tariffs on U.S. exports, economic growth and production costs. NPPC has expressed concerns that the import restrictions will lead to lost American jobs and could lead to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, particularly agriculture exports, from U.S. trading partners.
LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE LEGISLATIVE FIX FOR SECTION 199A
Senate lawmakers this week proposed a legislative fix for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s Section 199A, a provision that grants farmers a larger tax deduction if they sell their agricultural products to cooperatives, leaving independently-owned buyers at a disadvantage. The proposal – retroactive to Jan. 1 – would restore the Section 199 domestic production activities deduction (DPAD) designed to serve as both a domestic production and jobs creation incentive. That provision was repealed as part of the Trump tax reform plan approved in December. NPPC, along with other agricultural organizations, last year urged members of Congress to maintain the Section 199 DPAD, stressing its ability to provide support for rural communities and lower the tax burden for farmers. NPPC has commended lawmakers for their efforts to provide a fix to Section 199A and is urging Congress to pass a legislative solution that provides support for free market competition and ensures a level playing field for all market participants.
HOUSE COMMITTEE LOOKS TO ADVANCE ADUFA REAUTHORIZATION
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee met this week to discuss reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (AGDUFA). Set to expire Sept. 30, both grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permission to collect fees from the makers of new animal drugs, including generic animal drugs, which are used to support the agency’s approval and market introduction programs. Senate and House bipartisan draft reauthorization legislation includes a requirement that all requests for new animal drugs be submitted electronically beginning Oct. 1. Dr. Steven Solomon, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, testified before the subcommittee and affirmed the agency’s objective to work with Congress to advance the legislation. NPPC supports the reauthorization of ADUFA and AGDUFA, which are crucial for ensuring that animal health, human health and food safety are protected. Failure to renew the laws by the deadline will result in a major disruption for the livestock production industry.
CANADA, MERCOSUR ANNOUNCE DECISION TO NEGOTIATE TRADE DEAL
Canada and the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, this week announced their intent to negotiate a free trade agreement. The negotiations will begin on March 20 in Ottawa, Canada. NPPC is urging the Trump administration to initiate free trade negotiations to expand export opportunities for U.S. pork.
FARMERS FOR FREE TRADE URGES TRUMP TO UPHOLD TRADE AGREEMENTS
Farmers for Free Trade, a coalition launched late last year dedicated to supporting and expanding export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers, released a television ad this week, calling on President Trump to preserve free trade policies that support American farmers. The effort came following the signing by 11 Pacific Rim countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), without the United States – last week and as concerns mount over potential trade retaliation from planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. NPPC, a member of the coalition’s steering committee, continues to urge the Trump administration to preserve and expand free trade agreements that support export opportunities for U.S. pork.