For the Week Ending October 27, 2017
NPPC ALLIANCE PARTNERS GATHER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
NPPC Pork Alliance members gathered in Washington, D.C., this week to advocate on key issues on Capitol Hill. Alliance members, those who supply products and services to U.S. pork producers, discussed with their lawmakers the importance of maintaining and expanding U.S. export markets; the importance of federal funding for a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank; the need for visa reform to address agriculture’s labor shortage; and the merits of H.R. 2887, a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would prohibit one state from imposing laws and regulations, including those affecting farming practices, on other states.
AG ACT PASSES HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
The “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (AG Act), introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee this week. The bill would create an H-2C program, allowing non-seasonal agriculture workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for them to return to their home country. Workers would need to return for one month for every year in the United States. Undocumented workers who can demonstrate agriculture work experience over the previous two-year period would be eligible. NPPC, which generally supports the bill as a good first step toward meaningful labor reform to address a serious agriculture labor shortage, is evaluating amendments to the bill from Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee mark-up hearing and looks forward to working with Congress to further shape this legislation before it is considered by the full House.
EPA RELEASES PRELIMINARY GUIDANCE ON FARM EMISSIONS REPORTING
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released guidance to assist livestock farmers in reporting air emissions from manure on their farms. The guidance follows a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which rejected the EPA’s petition to maintain the farm exemption for these emission reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). While disappointed with the court’s ruling, NPPC worked with the EPA to develop effective guidance that minimizes the compliance burdens for U.S. pork producers. Under the court’s order, farmers are currently required to report emissions to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and EPA regional offices beginning Nov. 15. NPPC plans to request that the court delay the reporting deadline to provide more time to educate producers on their responsibilities under the law.
NPPC PROVIDES STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVE AT NATIONAL ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE MONITORING SYSTEM (NARMS) MEETING
Dr. Liz Wagstrom, NPPC chief veterinarian, provided a pork industry perspective on the NARMS program at their public meeting this week. This included input into the resistance data collected, how it is reported, and urged the program to seek ways to be more representative. In addition, she provided comment on a method proposed by the Food and Drug Administration to measure livestock antibiotic use. The FDA’s method uses antibiotic sales figures and estimates for the size of animal populations to approximate use. During the meeting, Dr. Wagstrom noted that antibiotic sales figures are not accurate, making any calculation based on this method inaccurate. Instead, she said, “We need to be looking at data from individual farms. NPPC is very supportive of the projects that FDA has funded to look at individual farm data.”
AG LEADERSHIP POSTS ADVANCE
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Greg Ibach as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Earlier in the week, the Senate Finance Committee advanced to the Senate floor the nomination of Gregory Doud to serve as chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. NPPC supports both nominations.
NPPC WELL REPRESENATED AT NATIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH CONFERENCE
NPPC’s Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian, and Corey Brown, domestic policy adviser, last week attended the United States Animal and Health Association (USAHA) conference, where Barb Determan, an Iowa pork producer and past NPPC president, was installed as president of the association. USAHA passed a resolution urging support of federal funding for a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and state programs for the prevention of foreign animal disease. Dr. Wagstrom chaired USAHA’s One Health Committee, and NPPC consulting partner Bobby Accord was awarded with the association’s medal of distinction.
FORMER NPPC PRESIDENT ON TRADE PANEL
Minnesota pork producer Randy Spronk, former NPPC president, will be a panelist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce event The Future of NAFTA: The Stakes for American Agriculture and Business on Oct. 31. Spronk will represent the U.S. pork industry on a trade panel moderated by Iowa State University Professor Dermot Hayes.
U.S. AG CENSUS ON THE HORIZON
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 Feb. 5, 2018.