For the Week Ending November 10, 2017

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With a Nov. 15 deadline looming, NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association Thursday filed a brief in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to delay a mandate that farmers report certain air emissions from manure on their farms. In April, a federal court, ruling on a lawsuit brought by environmental activist groups against EPA, rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. EPA had exempted farms from CERCLA reporting, reasoning that while emissions might exceed thresholds that would trigger responses under the law such responses would be “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.” The agency limited EPCRA reporting to large, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), requiring them to make one-time reports. Under the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, all livestock farms, not just CAFOs, are required to report. Between 60,000 and 100,000 livestock and poultry farmers will need to file air emissions reports with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC), beginning Nov. 15, as well as written reports with their regional EPA office within 30 days of reporting to the NRC. Some farmers already have tried filing reports, but the NRC system has been overwhelmed. NRC operators are refusing to accept reports for more than a single farm per call because of concern that the phone systems will be tied up for non-emergency purposes. In one instance, an NRC operator sent notices out to more than 20 state and federal response authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a state policy agency, after receiving a phone call. In seeking a second delay in implementing the CERCLA reporting mandate – the original filing deadline technically was the day the federal court threw out the exemption – EPA, NPPC and the poultry and egg association are asking the court to give the agency more time to “provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions” and to develop a system that will enable farmers to comply with their legal obligations.



U.S. agricultural industry leaders Wednesday at a round table discussion hosted by the House Committee on Agriculture raised concerns about the United States withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NPPC’s Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel for global government affairs, joined Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation; John Bode, president and CEO, Corn Refiners Association; Michael Dykes, president and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association; Shawna Morris, vice president of trade policy, National Milk Producers Federation; Tom Sleight, president and CEO, U.S. Grains Council; Tom Stenzel, president and CEO, United Fresh Produce Association; and Charles Jefferson, vice president of federal relations, Wine Institute, at the event to discuss the implications of terminating the 23-year-old agreement. Said Giordano, “I’ve been with the pork industry since 1995. I have never seen producers so worked up and so concerned, so we are really hearing from them. We can’t live without NAFTA.” NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to remain committed to NAFTA and to maintain zero-duty market access for pork exports to Canada and Mexico. A U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA would cost the U.S. pork industry $1.5 billion.



A ban on disease prevention uses of antibiotics in food-animal production being advocated by the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) would be ill-advised and wrong, NPPC said in a statement issued Tuesday. The WHO this week made recommendations on antibiotics use in livestock and poultry production, including that antibiotics important in human medicine should not be used for growth promotion or for disease prevention, and ones considered “critically important” in human medicine should not be used at all, even on sick animals. NPPC pointed out that the U.S. pork industry has taken steps over the past 30 years to ensure antibiotics are used strategically and responsibly to keep animals healthy and to produce safe food. Also, pork producers are complying with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration directive that prohibits the use of antibiotics important to human medicine for promoting animal growth and that requires feed and water uses of those same antibiotics to be under a veterinary prescription. U.S. Department of Agriculture acting chief scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young criticized the WHO recommendations, calling them “not in alignment” with U.S. policy and not supported by sound science.



The Trump administration will announce next week that it is delaying implementation of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, which would incorporate animal welfare standards into the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. NPPC opposes the rule because it is not based on science and is outside the scope of the 1990 law, which limited consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices. Proposed during the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new animal welfare standards would present serious challenges to livestock producers, NPPC has pointed out, including: animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic”; the standards add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and they could jeopardize animal and public health. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue is expected to postpone implementation of the rule until May 14, 2018. It was set to take effect Nov. 14. NPPC is continuing to urge USDA to rescind the regulation.



Widespread media speculation circulated this week about the possible revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Following reports that a revival of the agreement without the United States was imminent, more recent coverage suggests that the agreement has again stalled based on concerns from Canada. In the meantime, following remarks by President Trump during his visit this week, Japan balked at the terms of a possible bilateral trade agreement with the United States. Its trade minister said that his country would not enter into an FTA discussion simply to lower the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Japan continues to direct its focus on TPP-11 and an agreement in principle formed with the European Union that could take effect in 2018 or 2019. NPPC is urging the Trump administration to protect the benefits of existing trade agreements and to initiate bilateral discussions with Japan and other key growth markets.



President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae announced this week that the process for amending the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) will be “expedited.” The announcement comes nearly one month after the initial notice that the two countries would work to amend KORUS, easing industry concerns over termination of the trade deal. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates that if KORUS were terminated, live hog prices would fall by 3.8 percent, or $4.71 per animal, and the United States would lose the South Korean pork market to the European Union, Chile and other countries with preferential trade access. NPPC continues to fight for zero-tariff treatment of U.S. pork exports to the industry’s fifth largest market.



The U.S. House of Representatives this week continued work on the tax proposal it introduced last week – HR 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.” The legislation includes a number of provisions that could be beneficial to U.S. pork producers. They include maintaining the ability to use cash accounting, gradually eliminating the estate tax while maintaining stepped-up basis, reducing the tax rate for larger corporations, adopting a 25 percent rate for a portion of pass-through income and immediate expensing of capital purchases. The legislation, however, also could eliminate a number of deductions frequently used by producers. NPPC is evaluating the proposal to understand the implications of the reforms on the U.S. pork industry.



U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs Ted McKinney last week led an agribusiness trade mission to India in an effort to increase U.S. agricultural export levels there. During his visit, McKinney urged New Delhi to allow U.S. pork imports into the country. NPPC has been working for many years to get U.S. pork into India by eliminating that country’s non-scientific trade barriers. India benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a U.S. preferential trade program providing duty-free access to countries shipping goods to the United States. McKinney made some headway. “There is a great deal of interest in providing pork as long as it’s allowed. Talks are going on in that regard. The progress report is good,” he said at the conclusion of his trip. India could begin allowing U.S. pork into the country as early as next year.



NPPC participated in NAFB’s annual Trade Talk event in Kansas City this week, conducting dozens of interviews with farm broadcast journalists from across the country. President-elect Jim Heimerl; Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel, global government affairs; Dallas Hockman, vice president, industry relations; and Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian, addressed the importance of expanding export opportunities, pork production practices, the need for federal funding for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank and agriculture’s labor shortage.




American farmers and ranchers, including U.S. pork producers, will soon receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The questionnaire, distributed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), can be returned via mail or by online submission forms. All submissions are due by Feb. 5, 2018.