For the Week Ending March 2, 2018

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President Trump Thursday said he intends to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, action that NPPC and 24 agriculture and business organizations warned will have negative consequences. The restrictions are being imposed as a national security measure, according to the administration, which has raised concerns about U.S. reliance on imported steel for defense systems. In a letter to the president sent Tuesday, the groups said remedies to curb steel and aluminum imports included in a report issued by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are “overly broad and will have a severe detrimental impact on downstream users of steel and aluminum.” The restrictions will lead to lost American jobs and could lead to retaliation, including on agriculture exports, from U.S. trading partners, the organizations cautioned. And although it wasn’t raised in the letter, NPPC also is concerned about possible administration action — not sanctioned by the World Trade Organization — against China related to technology transfer and intellectual property. Thursday, Liu He, a top trade adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, met in Washington with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn to discuss the so-called 301 case and the tariffs on steel and aluminum. China is a major exporter of the products to the United States.



NPPC elected new officers and members to its board of directors at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Kansas City, Mo., yesterday and today. Elected as president of the organization was Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. He and his wife Kathy, along with three sons and a daughter-in-law, run three farrow-to-finish farms in Ohio and 80 contract finishing farms in several states. Heimerl Farms LTD also consists of crops and cattle, as well as a trucking division and feed mill. David Herring, of Lillington, N.C., was elevated to president-elect. He is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., a pork industry equipment company, and is involved with his family’s TDM Farms, which includes a farrow-to-finish operation and 1,100 acres of cropland on which corn, soybeans, wheat and hay are raised. Board member AV Roth, owner and operator of Roth Feeder Pigs in Wauzeka, Wis., was elected as vice president. Re-elected to the board for another three-year term were Dale Reicks, of New Hampton, Iowa, and Kraig Westerbeek, of Warsaw, N.C. Craig Andersen, of Centerville, S.D., and Duane Stateler, of McComb, Ohio, were elected for three-year terms. Elected as the Allied Industry Council representative was Dr. Gordon Spronk, of Pipestone, Minn., a veterinarian and chairman and senior owner of Pipestone Holdings.



U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week announced plans to seek a three-year extension of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which allows the president to negotiate trade deals with congressional oversight. An extended TPA would be used to forge agreements with Japan, Vietnam and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Lighthizer. To formally make the extension request, President Trump must send a letter to Congress by April 1. Since the United States withdrew from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in early 2017, NPPC has been urging the administration to initiate bilateral agreements with countries that are still part of that agreement, including Japan.



The U.S. Senate confirmed Bill Northey as the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for farm production and conservation Tuesday. The upper house approved the nominee by voice vote. Northey, who is currently serving his third term as secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, was nominated to the USDA post by President Trump last September. The Senate this week also confirmed the nomination of Gregg Doud as chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Doud is currently president of the Commodity Markets Council and was previously a senior aide to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Doud, who grew up on a family farm in Kansas, also worked for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and for U.S. Wheat Associates. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last month, NPPC asked the Senate to confirm the nominations of Northey, Doud, Stephen Vaden as USDA’s general counsel and Andrew Wheeler as deputy administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NPPC applauds the confirmations of Northey and Doud and is urging the Senate to schedule confirmation votes on the two remaining agricultural nominees.



NPPC Thursday at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Kansas City, Mo., inducted long-time pork producer, industry leader and past NPPC president Jill Appell into its Hall of Fame. Appell joined the NPPC board in 2001 and was appointed vice president of the organization in 2005. She served as president from March 2007 to March 2008. Also during the meeting, NPPC joined the National Pork Board in presenting former Ohio Pork Council State Executive Dick Isler with the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award. Named after Don Paulson, past Minnesota state pork executive, and Rex Whitmore, past Wisconsin state pork executive, the award recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork organization executives.



NPPC Friday at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – awarded scholarships to 10 college students who intend to pursue careers in the pork industry. The Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation and managed and administered by NPPC. The 2018 winners of the $2,500 scholarships are:

  • Jacob Sterle, Iowa State University
  • Erin Bryan, University of Illinois
  • Tim Grote, University of Illinois
  • Reid Hansen, South Dakota State University
  • Madeline Herring, Iowa State University
  • Macy Marek, Iowa State University
  • John Eilertson, Casper College
  • Ben Wikner, Iowa State University
  • Jaclynn Knutson, South Dakota State University
  • Gabe Greiner, Kirkwood Community College

The scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CME Hog futures. The scholarship was renamed in 2006 to honor the passing of NPPC board member and Vice President Lois Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture. (For more information about the scholarships, click here.)



The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week voted 22-1 to reauthorize the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (AGDUFA). The measure now moves to the full Senate. 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 drug approval and market introduction programs. The bipartisan legislation includes a requirement that all requests for new animal drugs be submitted electronically beginning Oct. 1. 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.



On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works conducted a hearing to address the Trump administration’s recently proposed infrastructure plan. The proposal would provide $200 billion in direct federal spending and is designed to stimulate $1.5 trillion in investment for infrastructure. Allocating $50 billion to state and local governments in the form of block grants, the plan would apportion 25 percent of total funds toward revitalizing rural America. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao outlined the elements of the plan to improve the nation’s highways, waterways and rural infrastructure, streamline the permit approval process and eliminate unnecessary regulations. NPPC supports the administration’s proposal, which will help ensure the continued success of the U.S. pork industry. Secretary Chao also discussed finding a permanent solution to the Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules for livestock haulers. In a letter sent to Secretary Chao and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Raymond Martinez last week, NPPC urged the agencies to issue clarifying guidance on the HOS rules and called on them to grant livestock haulers a waiver and limited exemption from a mandate that they install Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on their trucks. The rules, which are incompatible with the animal welfare requirements of the livestock industry, currently exempt commercial motor vehicles transporting livestock from the ELDs requirements if they’re driving within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which the animals were loaded. However, the exemption is not uniformly recognized, and its implementation varies by state. DOT granted a 90-day waiver – until March 18, 2018 — to livestock haulers from complying with the ELD mandate following the receipt of a letter signed by NPPC and other livestock groups late last year.



The Ports Coalition, which includes NPPC, in a letter this week urged the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance to remain engaged in talks on early contract renegotiations of labor agreements that cover U.S. east and Gulf coast ports. The talks initiated in 2016 were continued throughout 2017 until breaking down in December. The Ports Coalition raised concerns since the current contract between the docker workers’ union and the organization representing port operators is set to expire Sept. 30. The Ports Coalition, which represents the interests of manufacturers, agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors and transportation and logistics providers, continues to urge the sides to conduct early negotiations to avoid port disruptions such as occurred in late 2014 into early 2015 at West Coast ports. Work slowdowns at the ports cost the U.S. meat industry millions of dollars in lost export sales.



NPPC this week announced the launch of Pork Priorities, a video series showcasing the issues and elements essential to maintaining and protecting the livelihoods of America’s pork producers. Over the coming weeks, NPPC will feature the videos on its social media pages. Topics include such priority areas as international trade and animal health.