For the Week Ending October 23, 2020

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Whether there will be another COVID relief package this year continues to be an open question, as efforts this week to come to an agreement remained elusive. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to meet this week to find compromise between the White House’s $1.9 trillion and the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion proposals. However, both figures are opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and many Republican lawmakers. Pelosi had previously targeted a Tuesday deadline to reach a compromise with the White House, but on Thursday acknowledged that a deal could slip after the election. Meantime, on Wednesday Senate Democrats blocked a narrow $500 billion Republican COVID proposal, nearly identical to the version Democrats rejected in September. NPPC continues to press for a COVID relief package that includes aid for U.S. pork producers. “The injury [to America’s hog farmers] is huge and we’ve lost producers of all sizes. It’s been a tough year,” said NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano, during a Monday interview with “Adams on Agriculture.” A link to the full interview is here

Litigation continues against California’s Proposition 12, which imposes arbitrary animal housing standards that reach outside of California’s borders to farms across the United States. Last month, NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed their opening brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike Proposition 12 as invalid. By attempting to regulate businesses outside of its borders, California’s Proposition 12 violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 prohibits the sale of pork not produced according to California’s highly prescriptive production standards. “Ultimately, Proposition 12 will reverse decades of progress on sow care and welfare, set back efficiency and the resource footprint of farms, undermine the overall global competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry and increase food prices for consumers,” NPPC Assistant Vice President and General Counsel Michael Formica explained to Farm Journal’s PORK this week. Meantime, last month, three separate briefs by the federal government, a bipartisan group of 20 state attorney generals and numerous trade and business groups were filed in support of NPPC and AFBF’s lawsuit. Oral arguments on the case will likely take place in January or February of 2021. To learn more about Proposition 12, click here

To honor and celebrate National Pork Month, NPPC is turning over its Hogs on the Hill blog to guest authors. In NPPC’s third guest submission, Iowa Pork Producers Association President-Elect Dennis Liljedahl discusses challenges Iowa hog farmers continue to endure during the COVID crisis, the urgent need for Congressional relief and other top priorities for pork producers. Read the full blog post here

The U.S. and the U.K. began this week their fifth round of trade talks in the hopes of soon completing a deal. “We’re intensifying negotiations, so we’re in a good position to move forward after the U.S. election,” British Trade Minister Liz Truss wrote on Twitter. “These things take time…but we are making great headway and we have got 30-some groups negotiating and negotiating bitterly right now,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the Atlantic Future Forum this week. In October 2018, the Trump administration first announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork, the U.K. acknowledges meat industry standards as equivalent and they agree to import product from all federally inspected facilities.  

On Wednesday, the United States and Kenya began the second round of trade talks. The virtual negotiations involve U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo. The aim is for a “comprehensive, high standard free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Kenya that will bring prosperity to the two countries, as well as eastern Africa,” according to the U.S. State Department. The two countries held their first round of virtual negotiations in July. In late April, NPPC submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on a trade deal between the two countries, noting that an agreement has the potential for a significant increase in the demand for U.S. pork products, but import duties and all non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork need to be fully eliminated. “NPPC will give enthusiastic support to an FTA with Kenya that eliminates all tariffs on U.S. pork and allows for the import of pork using science-based and internationally recognized regulatory standards.”