For the Week Ending March 3, 2017

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NPPC applauded an executive order issued Tuesday by President Trump that begins the process of rescinding or rewriting the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would have given the government broad jurisdiction over land and water. The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal review of the WOTUS rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, and ostensibly was implemented to clarify the agency’s authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters. NPPC helped lead the agricultural community’s opposition to the rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA’s jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased by 77 percent under the WOTUS rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the rule. In arguing against the regulation to the appellate court, NPPC pointed out that EPA and the Corps of Engineers failed to reopen the public comment period after making fundamental changes to the rule before it took effect and withheld until after the comment period closed the scientific report on which the rule was based. The agencies also refused to conduct required economic and environmental analyses, engaged in a propaganda campaign to promote the rule and rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule, said NPPC in its court brief.



NPPC elected new officers and members to its board of directors at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Atlanta yesterday and today. Elected as president of the organization was Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. Maschhoff is chairman of Maschhoff Family Foods and co-owner and chairman of The Maschhoffs, the largest family-owned pork production company in North America. A fifth-generation pork producer, Maschhoff formerly served on the Illinois Pork Producers Association board of directors as well as on the boards for Midland States Bank and Midland States Bancorp Inc. Currently he serves on the board for various local organizations including, Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School, Potter Electric and First Light USA. Jim Heimerl, a pork producers from Johnstown, Ohio, was elevated to president-elect. 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. Heimerl served as president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council and as board member of the Ohio Soybean Association. David Herring, of Lillington, N.C., was chosen as vice president. 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. Re-elected to the board for another three-year term were Phil Borgic, of Nokomis, Ill., Herring and Terry Wolters, of Pipestone, Minn. Scott Hayes, of Monroe City, Mo., was elected as a new member of the board for a three-year term, and Cory Bollum, with Hormel Foods Corp. in Austin, Minn., was reelected for a two-year term as the Packer Processor Industry Council representative. They join current directors Kent Bang of Omaha. Neb. – who is the Allied Industry Council representative – Jim Compart, of Nicollet, Minn., Bill Kessler, of Mexico, Mo., Dale Reicks, of New Hampton, Iowa, A.V. Roth, of Wauzeka, Wis., Jen Sorensen of Ankeny, Iowa, and Kraig Westerbeek, of Warsaw, N.C.



Now that Wilbur Ross has been confirmed as Commerce secretary – the Senate approved him Tuesday – the Trump administration may begin the process of reviewing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Ross this week told Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, that the administration formally would notify Congress in mid-March that it will renegotiate the 23-year-old agreement. Once the White House communicates its intent to the Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, it must consult with Congress on the objectives of the trade talks during a 90-day period; 30 days prior to negotiations starting, the administration must make public a “detailed and comprehensive summary of the specific objectives.” The two trade committees also met recently with the administration’s National Trade Council director, Peter Navarro. One possible holdup to starting the 90-day clock is that President Trump’s pick to head the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, has yet to be confirmed. NPPC has said that any redone NAFTA deal must not disrupt U.S. pork exports to the pork industry’s No. 2 (Mexico) and No. 4 (Canada) markets.



NPPC Thursday at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Atlanta inducted two long-time pork producers into its Hall of Fame. Barb Determan, a pork producer from Early, Iowa, was inducted for her perseverance and leadership of and dedication to the U.S. pork industry, and the late Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., was inducted for his for his passion for pork production and his genuine care and concern for those in the pork industry. Determan, who grew up on a diversified farm in west central Illinois, is president, owner and strategist of Heartland Marketing Group, and she and husband Steve also raise hogs. Serving as NPPC president from March 2001 to March 2002, Determan oversaw the court-ordered split of the Pork Checkoff Program from NPPC that paved the way for the council to reestablish itself to provide the legislative, regulatory and trade advocacy necessary for the industry to achieve success. Wolf, who died suddenly last July, was a partner in Wolf L&G Farms LLC, with his wife Kris and son Shannon. The farm includes a sow farrow-to-finish operation, a cow-calf herd, feedlot and 1,200 crop acres on which corn, soybeans and alfalfa are raised. He served on the NPPC board of directors for five years, including as president from March 2011 to March 2012. Also during the meeting, NPPC joined the National Pork Board in presenting former Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Rich Degner with the inaugural 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. Degner worked for IPPA for 35 years, serving as CEO the last 17 of those years before retiring in 2015. He began his career at the organization as program and communications director then moved to pork product promotion in Iowa and overseas.



Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., this week introduced legislation to address the shortfall of veterinarians in rural areas. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act bill, which NPPC supports, would help meet the demand for veterinarians nationwide by eliminating taxes on programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved areas. Congress in 2003 established the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) to assist food animal and public health veterinarians with student loan repayment in exchange for a three-year commitment to practice in parts of the country with shortages of veterinarians. But repayment amounts are subject to a significant federal withholding tax. The Crapo-Stabenow bill would provide an exemption from the withholding tax for payments received under the VMLRP and similar state programs.



Filling a position left vacant for most of the Obama administration, the White House this week appointed Ray Starling to the position of Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Aid on the National Economic Council, a move hailed by NPPC. Starling previously served as chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. In a statement issued Monday, NPPC President John Weber said, “By picking a true champion of American agriculture to serve in this key advisory role, President Trump is sending a clear signal of his commitment to reverse unnecessary regulations inhibiting pork producers and all U.S. farmers from doing what they do best: supplying the world with the most nutritious, affordable and abundant food available.” Starling grew up raising hogs on a farm in North Carolina that his family continues to operate today.



NPPC Thursday 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 2017 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation and managed and administered by NPPC. The 2017 winners of the $2,500 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, N.C. – are:

  • Lexi Marek, Iowa State University
  • Mitchell Juhl, Iowa State University
  • Nora Faris, University of Missouri
  • Mary Heiller, Iowa State University
  • Samuel Johnson, South Dakota State University
  • Adam Stevermer, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Joshua Beam, Pennsylvania State University
  • Caleb Grohmann, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Brittney Kozenko, Kansas State University
  • Haley Stark, Butler 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 of Director Lois Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture. Britt spent 34 years with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, finishing out her career for 15 years with Smithfield Hog Production in public and government relations. She was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the N.C. Pork Council Hall of Fame and awarded the N.C. 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award. To be eligible for a scholarship, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals. (For more information about the scholarships, click here.)





The House Committee on Agriculture continues preparations for writing the 2018 Farm Bill, holding two subcommittee hearings next week. The Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit will look at rural development and energy programs, and the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research will hold a hearing on specialty crops. Both hearings are scheduled for next Thursday.