For the Week Ending November 19, 2021

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Vietnam this week confirmed it will lower its Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff on imported frozen pork to 10 from 15 percent. The reduction is expected to take effect July 1, 2022. Getting better market access to Vietnam, a major pork-consuming country, has been a top trade priority for NPPC. Late last year, NPPC Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Maria Zieba testified before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on the importance to U.S. pork producers of the Vietnamese market and urged the Trump administration not to impose U.S. tariffs on goods from Vietnam over that country’s alleged currency manipulation. NPPC more recently led efforts, including a letter from more than 70 members of Congress, to get USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai to press Vietnam to eliminate tariffs on U.S. pork. While the rate reduction will help, because the United States does not have a free trade agreement with Vietnam, the U.S. pork industry remains at a competitive disadvantage to pork-supplying countries that do, including the European Union, Russia and nations in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. CPTPP countries, for example, currently have a duty of just 7.5 percent on frozen pork exports going to Vietnam. (The tariff will fall to 5.6 percent next July.) That’s why NPPC also has been urging the Biden administration to join the CPTPP and to begin trade negotiations with other Southeast Asian nations. This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo held talks with CPTPP countries Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore on an Indo-Pacific economic framework that would include cooperating on export controls and monitoring supply chains.

NPPC President Jen Sorenson Wednesday testified before Congress on the importance of trade to U.S. pork producers, laying out the pork industry’s trade priorities and urging lawmakers and the Biden administration to open new and expand existing export markets. She told members of the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture that the U.S. pork industry’s exporting success is because of market access outcomes negotiated under free trade agreements (FTA), pointing out that U.S. pork exports have increased more than 1,850 percent in value and nearly 1,750 percent in volume since 1989, the year the United States implemented its FTA with Canada and started opening international markets for value-added agriculture products. To continue that success, Sorenson testified, the United States should join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership; expand market access in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam; get China to remove its retaliatory tariffs on pork; renew Trade Promotion Authority, which defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements and requires Congress to approve FTAs without changes; address the country’s aging ports and the ongoing labor shortage; and keep the United States free of African swine fever, which would negatively affect pork exports. (Read NPPC’s testimony here.)

The House, with all but one Democrat and no Republicans, today approved a pared-down budget reconciliation bill on a 220-213 vote and sent it to the Senate, where it faces uncertain prospects. The $1.85 trillion “Build Back Better” plan includes some tax increases, such as a 15 percent corporate alternative minimum tax, expansion of the net investment income tax, limitations on the treatment of losses for non-corporate taxpayers and new surcharges on high-income earners and trusts. The bill’s original price tag was $3.5 trillion. While the measure was being cobbled together, NPPC pushed back against new and expanded tax provisions that would have been detrimental to pork producers. Working with other trade groups, it helped keep out of the massive budget bill elimination of the stepped-up basis, a provision to impose capital gains taxes on assets transferred at death and changes to existing estate tax thresholds. NPPC will continue working against any tax increases that adversely impact pork producers.

Over the past two weeks, NPPC International Technical Services Specialist Dr. Trachelle Carr and Science and Technology Adviser Dr. Marie Bucko participated virtually in the 44th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), representing U.S. pork’s priorities and positions. The Codex, the international food-safety standards-setting organization, held its annual meeting to continue implementing the joint food program of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). With more than 500 delegates in attendance, participants worked together to contribute to the standard-setting process in a spirit of openness, collaboration and transparency. Among the actions taken, CAC agreed to adopt Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) for Ivermectin in fat, kidney, liver and muscle tissues of sheep, pigs and goats and further evaluate the establishment of MRLs for Halquinol, an important animal drug to combat anti-microbial resistance for the control and treatment of a bacteria caused by E. coli in swine. Although Halquinol currently is not approved for use in the United States, establishing MRLs for it would enable veterinarians to supervise its use in swine, ensuring the safe use of the compound. (For more information about the Codex meeting, click here.)

NPPC this week participated in the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ annual “Trade Talk” event, a part of the NAFB Convention that brings together broadcast professionals and agriculture industry leaders. NPPC President-elect Terry Wolters, Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano, Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom, Science and Technology Legal Counsel Andrew Bailey and Assistant Vice President and General Counsel Michael Formica were on hand to discuss issues of importance to U.S. pork producers. Among the top topics on which NPPC conducted 44 interviews with farm radio reporters were trade, California’s Proposition 12, African swine fever, reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting law, packing plant line speeds and the ongoing farm labor shortage.

NPPC’s fourth annual national “Give-A-Ham” challenge to benefit food banks and pantries around the country is underway, and the organization is urging pork producers to participate in it. The campaign, which runs through the end of the year, in 2020 saw more than 15 million pounds of pork donated to help those in need. “This challenge is a holiday tradition and one that is my favorite,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “It reflects how this country’s 60,000 pork producers – who work so hard to raise safe and nutritious protein – are also practicing one of our ‘We Care’ principles: giving back to our communities and being good neighbors.”

NPPC is accepting applications for the 2022 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship, which is sponsored by CME Group and managed and administered by NPPC. The program, introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC and named in 2006 in honor of the late-NPPC board member Lois Britt, awards 10 $2,500 scholarships annually to college students who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry, with hopes they will become pork industry leaders. All entries must be sent by Jan. 3, 2022, to be accepted. (Click here for more information, including where to submit applications.)