For the Week Ending March 24, 2017

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The U.S. pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill is establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, the NPPC Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newton Grove, N.C., told a House Agriculture subcommittee in testimony Tuesday. To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork and soy bean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to:

  • Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
  • Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
  • Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

Herring, who also is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., which makes hog farm equipment, told the subcommittee that pork producers want a Farm Bill that supports the U.S. pork industry rather than hinders its ability to continue producing safe, lean and nutritious pork for the global marketplace. In addition to an FMD vaccine bank, he said the next Farm Bill should include policies for disease surveillance, research and trade promotion, which would help pork producers. Among policies that could hamper producers, said Herring, are the pending Farmer Fair Practices Rules and the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. NPPC wants the Trump administration to withdraw both regulations.



Former Georgia Gov. George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of agriculture, Thursday during his confirmation hearing told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry he’ll be a “tenacious” advocate for agriculture. NPPC supports Perdue to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture and earlier this year hailed him as someone who will be “very good for America’s farmers and ranchers.” Perdue grew up on a dairy and crop farm, became a veterinarian and ran agribusiness companies before entering Georgia politics. He was elected governor of the state, serving from 2003 to 2011. Asked during the hearing by committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., about USDA establishing strong trade policies, Perdue said, “Agriculture needs a strong advocate. … [the Trump trade team] can all work together to establish a strong trade policy that benefits agriculture.” On another important issue for pork producers, Perdue said USDA will have “ongoing communications” with other federal agencies to identify unintended consequences of regulations and address them “before they create challenges for agriculture.”



In a letter sent this week, a bipartisan group of the House of Representatives thanked President Trump for “pursing strong and enforceable bilateral trade agreements” and reminded him that “developing export markets for agriculture products in particular has supported jobs for farmers, ranchers and communities dependent on a strong rural economy.” The 54 lawmakers noted that “more needs to be done to build on this progress and eliminate persistent barriers that continue to place U.S. producers at a competitive disadvantage.” NPPC also has urged the Trump administration to pursue bilateral trade deals, particularly in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. The organization is particularly keen on negotiating agreements with Japan – the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market – the Philippines and Vietnam. NPPC also has communicated to the administration that any efforts to “modernize” the North American Free Trade Agreement must maintain the zero tariff on pork trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico.



NPPC’s trade team this week completed a series of meetings in Peru and Colombia to explore promising opportunities for U.S. pork producers. Peru is a small but growing market where current consumption of U.S. pork has considerable potential to expand. Colombia is an important and rapidly growing pork market where strong cooperation has expanded market opportunities in mutually beneficial ways. In partnership with U.S. pork producers and the National Pork Board, domestic producers have worked aggressively to expand consumption of pork in Colombia. The meetings included a gathering of NPPC’s Trade Policy Committee in Lima to discuss trade policy issues and to meet with Peruvian pork producers, U.S. Embassy officials and Peruvian government officials. Nick Giordano, NPPC counsel and vice president of global government affairs, traveled to Colombia where he explored trade opportunities with staff for Colombia’s national pork producers group, government officials, including the Colombian Minister of Trade, and importers.



A federal district court late last Friday dismissed for lack of standing a lawsuit brought by the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) against several Iowa counties over alleged water pollution. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa ruled that even if DMWW could prove an injury, the drainage districts of Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties can’t remedy it. In late January, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that state law immunizes county drainage districts from legal claims. The districts were instituted in Iowa to allow wetlands to be turned into productive farmland by moving water off fields. DMMW, which provides drinking water to about half a million Iowans, sued the drainage districts, claiming they allowed nitrates from agricultural lands to get into the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. DMWW is required to meet certain federal water-quality standards, including a maximum level of nitrates. Relying on 100 years of Iowa law, the state high court ruled that the drainage districts have “a limited, targeted role – to facilitate the drainage of farmland in order to make it more productive” – and are, therefore, immune from damages claims and from injunctive relief claims other than ones to compel it to perform a statutory duty. DMWW also brought claims under the federal Clean Water Act and the state’s water pollution control law. In dismissing the federal lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand said Iowa’s water-quality problems are an issue for the Iowa legislature.




The House Committee on Agriculture continues its hearings on the next Farm Bill, with three scheduled for next week. The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management next Tuesday will examine commodity policies, and the same day the Subcommittee on Nutrition will hold a hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Next Wednesday, the full committee will review the Farm Credit System.