For the Week Ending May 21, 2021
CONGRESS DEBATES TAX, INFRASTRUCTURE IN COMMITTEE HEARINGS
On Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee and Wednesday in the House Ways & Means Committee, lawmakers continued the ongoing debate on the scope of a potential infrastructure package and how to pay for it. Republicans continue to advocate for a significantly smaller package of less than $1 trillion and funded primarily by user fees, while Democrats press for a multi-trillion-dollar plan funded by broad tax increases on corporations and high-earning individuals. NPPC remains concerned with these and other proposals to end the step up in basis – a change that could have a dramatic impact on multi-generational farms. During the hearings, there were moments of bipartisanship on the possible reemergence of Obama-era Build America Bonds and the concept of public-private partnerships, but the debate over the plan’s scale remained fierce – especially in the House. Democratic legislators work to write language for Biden’s series of infrastructure plans, while talks continue between Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and President Biden for a bipartisan bill focused on “traditional infrastructure.” To watch Tuesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, click here. To watch Wednesday’s House Ways & Means Committee hearing, click here.
EU HALTS PLANS TO RAISE U.S. RETALIATORY TARIFFS
On Monday, the European Union announced it will temporarily suspend plans to raise tariffs on a number of U.S. products in retaliation for the Section 232 tariffs on foreign steel, which have been in place since March 2018. That same year, the EU imposed 25 percent retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. goods and those duties were set to double on June 1. This week’s announcement was made as both countries begin talks aimed at removing the Section 232 tariffs. While the steel and aluminum import tariffs were lifted in 2019 for Canada and Mexico—which led to congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement—the steel import duties remain in place on imports from Europe, China and other countries. In retaliation, China has implemented 25 percent tariffs on U.S. pork exports into the country. NPPC has been pressing for the retaliatory duties on U.S. pork to be removed.
USDA CONTINUES CFAP SIGNUPS
Application signups continue for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) funding. The initial signup ended on Dec. 11, but USDA re-opened the application process on March 24th. USDA has still not released additional information regarding CFAP Additional Assistance payments for hogs and contract growers, or for euthanized livestock and poultry. As previously announced, additional CFAP 1 payments for swine producers and contract growers remain on hold and are likely to require modification to the regulation; the agency will dedicate at least $6 billion to provide assistance for, among others, euthanized livestock and poultry and improving the resilience of the food supply chain. For further details, visit here.
USDA RELEASES CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRESS REPORT
USDA released a climate change strategy progress report on Thursday that highlighted overall steps the agency plans to take in response to President Biden’s January executive order on climate change. “With the right tools and partnerships, American agriculture and forestry can lead the world in solutions that will increase climate resilience, sequester carbon, enhance agricultural productivity, and maintain critical environmental benefits,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. While this week’s progress report didn’t provide any new specific climate initiatives, the agency outlined how a successful climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF) strategy will rely on a multi-pronged approach, including supporting research and data collection for quantification, monitoring and verification of carbon benefits. In recent climate change comments submitted to USDA, NPPC highlighted the efficiency gains made by U.S. pork producers that has brought about significant greenhouse gas reductions and made the sector a global model for environmental sustainability. To learn more about U.S. pork producers’ environmental stewardship, visit here.
U.S., MEXICO, CANADA TRADE COUNTERPARTS REITERATE SUPPORT FOR ‘ROBUST’ USMCA TRADE COMMITMENTS
The first meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Free Trade Commission was held earlier this week and while no significant commitments were made, officials from the three countries reiterated support for the “robust” trade agreement. “The parties recognize that trade policies should foster broad-based and equitable growth, spur innovation, protect our shared environment, and have a positive impact on people from all walks of life. To accomplish this, the United States, Mexico, and Canada recommit to fully implementing, enforcing, and fulfilling the agreement’s terms and high standards throughout the life of the USMCA,” according to a joint statement from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade Mary Ng, and Mexico’s Secretary for Economy Tatiana Clouthier. The three officials also held “robust, forward-looking discussions” on USMCA’s labor and environment obligations, the statement noted. The countries plan to hold a meeting with trade deputies before the end of this year to assess progress and identify ongoing opportunities for future engagement. USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets and preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America.