For the Week Ending May 12, 2017
NPPC CALLS FOR NEW FTAs TO FURTHER REDUCE U.S. TRADE DEFICIT
In comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NPPC this week emphasized the critical role free trade agreements (FTAs) play in reducing the U.S. trade deficit. NPPC noted that the 20 existing U.S. FTAs contribute to a reduction in the deficit and called for expedited negotiation of new trade agreements to further improve the trade imbalance. In its comments, submitted for a federal government study of the trade deficit, NPPC noted that the U.S. exports more pork to the 20 current FTA countries than to the rest of the world combined. NPPC identified Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines as among the priority FTAs to pursue.
ORGANIC LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY RULE DELAYED SIX MONTHS
The Trump administration this week announced it will again delay the Obama-era Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule, pushing back the effective date to Nov. 14 from May 19. It originally was set to become effective March 20. NPPC, which opposes the regulation because it would incorporate animal welfare standards that are not based on science and that are outside the scope of the existing organic food law, hailed the move. The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 limited consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices. The proposed new animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program, if enacted, would be the first time such criteria are codified in federal law. The new standards include animal production practices that have nothing to do with the concept of organic; add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and jeopardize animal and public health.
PERDUE ANNOUNCES NEW USDA TRADE-FOCUSED POSITION
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is establishing an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, a position NPPC and others in agriculture fought to get included in the 2014 Farm Bill. The organization, expressing its pleasure with the Trump administration’s recognition of the importance of exports to U.S. agriculture, said the new undersecretary can help convey the U.S. pork industry’s message to the administration that it should work to preserve and expand foreign market access for U.S. agricultural products. NPPC said it will work with the undersecretary to advance trade policies that will be beneficial for U.S. agriculture, including free trade agreements that eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork products.
REGULATION TO RESCIND ‘WOTUS’ RULE SENT TO OMB
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week sent a proposal to withdraw the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB must approve regulations before they are published in the Federal Register and opened to public comment. NPPC strongly opposed the WOTUS rule, which gave the government broad jurisdiction over land and water. The regulation took effect in late August 2015 but has been tied up in the courts. NPPC was part of one of the lawsuits, challenging the Obama-era regulation.
SENATE CONFIRMS LIGHTHIZER AS U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
The U.S. Senate Thursday confirmed Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative by a vote of 81-15. Lighthizer served as deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration. Joining 13 Democrats in voting against Lighthizer were Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who expressed concerns about the nominee’s less-than-strong support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. NPPC said it will convey its trade priorities to Lighthizer, including maintaining the zero-tariff pork trade in NAFTA and negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan. Access to international markets is the No. 1 priority of U.S. pork producers.
USDA WORLD AGRICULTURAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND REPORT RELEASED
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report Wednesday, providing the latest projections for production, prices, imports, exports and per capita consumption for nearly all commodities, including pork. The report provides a first glance at USDA’s production estimates for 2018. Pork production was lowered slightly from last month because of lower carcass weights but is expected to be a record 26 billion pounds. Next year’s pork production is forecast at 26.9 billion pounds because of increased farrowings and continued gains in sow productivity. Export projections for the rest of the year were increased on a combination of strong demand and plentiful supplies.
SENATE CONFIRMS GOTTLIEB TO HEAD FDA
The U.S. Senate Tuesday voted 57-42 to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb is a physician and venture capitalist with a background in the pharmaceutical industry and previously served as deputy FDA commissioner and as an official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Senate vote was largely along party lines.
EU WORKING TOWARD TRADE DEAL WITH JAPAN
The European Union is working toward a trade agreement with Japan ahead of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July. (The G-20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major world economies.) “The goal is to send a clear message at the G-20 that the EU remains engaged and delivers on free trade,” a diplomat told Politico Pro Europe this week.
STUDY FINDS ‘TPP 11’ TRADE DEAL
A recent study commissioned by Canadian think tank CanadaWest found that a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal without the United States would turn the approximate $12.7 billion export gain America would have gotten from the agreement into a $3 billion loss. A “TPP 11” deal would garner an additional $16.6 billion at 2017 prices – less than half of the $40.7 billion projected when the United States was still a part of the agreement. The deal could also generate economic welfare benefits of about $16.1 billion by 2031, the study found. Automotive exports and business services stand to gain the most from the TPP 11 deal, and countries in the western hemisphere would reap the highest benefits. Mexico, Canada, Peru and Chile would still have access to U.S. markets under pre-existing trade deals. Canada would see an increase in exports of pork, beef, fruits and vegetables. NPPC, which strongly supported the TPP, is working with the Trump administration on a number of bilateral trade agreements to ensure fair market access for U.S. pork.
NPPC CHIEF VETERINARIAN PARTICIPATES IN ANTIBIOTICS MEETINGS
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom was busy in Washington last week as she participated in the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) meeting. The meeting focused on incentives for developing diagnostics, vaccines and new therapeutic products. Veterinarians and animal health manufacturers were on hand to help educate the PACCARB panel on livestock farming, veterinary care and development of new drugs and vaccines. Also last week, Wagstrom met with officials from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The National Pork Board, Association of Swine Veterinarians and Swine Health Information Center joined the meeting, which addressed progress in the APHIS Veterinary Service sector. Additionally, Wagstrom on Tuesday held briefings for House and Senate staff on responsible antibiotic use in animals and humans. She pointed out that pork producers recognize the importance of using antibiotics responsibly to protect the health and well-being of both while striving to reduce the overall need for the use of antibiotics in pork production and to maintain their efficacy for future generations.
OBAMA WEIGHS IN ON FOOD PRODUCTION, CLIMATE CHANGE
At his first major public appearance since leaving office, former President Obama said the poorest countries will bear the brunt of climate change and that more progress needs to be made on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. He was bullish on the role that technology can play in reducing agriculture emissions and expanding food security, citing crops able to grow with less water, and called out the potential of gene editing. He said it’s “okay to be cautious” about gene editing, but it “can’t be like GMOs” where “debate has been cut off.” He encouraged regulators to work with the private sector to explore its potential.
WORLD PORK EXPO JUNE 7-9
NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo will be held June 7-9 at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. For more information about, and media registration for, the world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition, click here.