For the Week Ending November 20, 2020

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NPPC was well represented at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s virtual “Trade Talk” event on Thursday. NPPC conducted dozens of interviews on issues of importance to U.S. pork producers, including a COVID relief package that includes assistance for U.S. pork producers. “This year has been absolutely unprecedented for hog farmers,” NPPC President-Elect Jen Sorenson told Brownfield. “We’ve lost billions of dollars in equity…after coming off of two years on the tip of the trade retaliation spear. We’re still hopeful another federal COVID package is coming our way, helping to stabilize our pork sector,” she added. Other top priorities for NPPC include the enormous opportunity represented by U.S. participation in the CPTPP trade agreement, addressing the significant funding shortfall for U.S. agriculture inspectors, ensuring African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases remain outside the U.S. and NPPC’s legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12. Joining Sorenson at the event were NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom, NPPC Science and Technology Legal Counsel Andrew Bailey and NPPC Assistant Vice President and General Counsel Michael Formica. 

Negotiations on a COVID relief package remained in neutral this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remain at odds over the size—and price—of the effort. Pelosi has been advocating for a broader, $2 trillion measure, while McConnell has been pushing for a more targeted, $500 billion bill. On Tuesday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in an effort to spur further discussions. However, in a glimmer of hope on Thursday, Schumer said McConnell had agreed to staff-level talks. “There’s a little bit of good news, as of today,” he said. “They’ve agreed to sit down, and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good COVID relief bill,” he added. However, Senate Republicans countered that discussions focused on an omnibus government spending bill and not COVID relief. It remains unclear whether any progress on a COVID relief package is likely during the current lame duck session. U.S. hog farmers are facing billions in collective pandemic-related losses and NPPC continues to press for a COVID relief package that includes assistance for U.S. pork producers.

On Sunday, China and 14 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement. The deal, which doesn’t include the United States, covers trade in goods, services, investment, and economic and technical cooperation, among other issues, and represents nearly 30 percent of the world’s population. RCEP negotiations were launched in November 2012 and the deal includes Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, among others. It will enter into force 60 days after six Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and three other countries have ratified the agreement. NPPC sees tremendous market opportunity in Southeast Asia, and among top near-term priorities is U.S. participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). As NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth recently stated, “CPTPP countries are among the largest pork-consuming nations in the world. The United States produces the highest quality and most affordable pork in the world, and we are eager to compete on a level playing field in these high-growth markets.”