For the Week Ending October 6, 2017
U.S., SOUTH KOREA TO AMEND TRADE AGREEMENT
The United States and South Korea agreed this week to amend their free trade agreement known as KORUS. The announcement following the second round of talks established a more conciliatory tone between the two countries, following recent concerns about a U.S. withdrawal. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes reports 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 the preservation of zero-tariff treatment in what is U.S. pork’s fifth largest export market.
GOODLATTE BILL REVEALED
Details of a visa reform bill developed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., were revealed this week. Known as the “Agricultural Guestworker Act,” or AG Act, the bill would create an H-2C visa 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. The new program would allow undocumented workers who can demonstrate agriculture work experience over the previous two-year period to get an H-2C visa, with an initial cap of 500,000 workers allowed under the program. NPPC supports the legislation as an effective solution to address the labor shortage facing American agriculture and the U.S. pork industry.
THAI PORK INDUSTRY HOLDS PROTECTIONIST RALLY
Late last week, Thai pork industry trade representatives, farmers, workers and sales agents gathered at a rally in Bangkok to oppose U.S. pork imports. The rally, timed just before the Thai prime minister’s visit to Washington, D.C., to discuss trade relations, reflects a pattern of protectionist behavior against U.S. pork. Through unwarranted, unscientific-based trade barriers, including a ban on pork raised with ractopamine and a prohibition against imports of uncooked pork, Thailand has established a de facto ban on U.S. pork while enjoying access to the U.S. market. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to level the playing field between the U.S. and Thai pork industries.
USTR SAYS LATIN AMERICAN FTAs NEED TO BE MODERNIZED
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that U.S. free trade agreements in the Latin American region require modernization and will be addressed following the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. He made the comments this week at Gov. Rick Scott’s, R-Fla., Latin American Summit where he [Lighthizer] touched on trade facilitation efficiency and trade deficit reduction as areas where he sees modernization taking place. FTAs have worked very well for American pork producers as U.S. exports of pork and pork products have increased by 1,550 percent in value and almost 1,300 percent in volume since 1989, when the United States implemented its first FTA. NPPC continues to urge the administration to explore new FTAs while maintaining those agreements already in place.
AG NEGOTIATOR NOMINEE STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF NAFTA, KORUS
At a Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday, Gregg Doud, nominee to serve as chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, emphasized the critical importance of NAFTA, KORUS and other free trade agreements for U.S. agriculture. During the hearing, Doud said, “It’s hard to overstate the importance of NAFTA” and called KORUS “critically important.” Doud, whose nomination is strongly supported by NPPC, said the United States will “not go backwards” on export opportunities for the agriculture industry.
CENSKY, MCKINNEY TO JOIN PERDUE’S TEAM AT USDA
Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney were confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week as USDA deputy secretary and undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs, respectively. Censky previously served as the CEO of the American Soybean Association and at the USDA under both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, becoming administrator of the agency’s Foreign Agriculture Service in 1992. McKinney formerly served Indiana as agriculture secretary and brings extensive experience in the private agriculture sector to his newly established position aimed at expanding foreign market access for agricultural products. NPPC looks forward to working with these USDA leaders to develop policies that advance the development of the U.S. pork industry and agriculture sector.
NPPC PARTICIPATES IN CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS ON PERU PANEL DISCUSSION
NPPC’s director of international affairs, Maria Zieba, this week participated in a panel organized by the Congressional Caucus on Peru. Hosted by Congressmen Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the panel, which also included Peruvian Ambassador to the U.S. Carlos Pareja and Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Edgar Vasquez, addressed the merits of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. Zieba, who was the only panel participant representing the private industry, advocated for the benefits of free trade by addressing the benefits U.S. pork has realized through the U.S.-Peru FTA. The United States shipped more than 2,800 metric tons of pork worth about $6.8 million to Peru in 2016. In 2008, the year before the U.S.-Peru FTA took effect, the United States exported just 181 metric tons of pork to the South American country. Peruvian pork production, which last year was almost 200,000 metric tons, has increased an average of 5 percent a year over the past five years, demonstrating the market expansion benefits of increased competition.
NORTHEY, IBACH NOMINATIONS FOR USDA POSTS CONSIDERED
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry this week considered the nominations of Bill Northey and Gregory Ibach for top posts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. President Trump tapped Northey, who is secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture, to be undersecretary of farm production and conservation, and Ibach, who is director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, to serve as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said, “We’re going to do that as expeditiously as we possibly can,” of his committee’s vote. If approved by committee, the nominations will move to full Senate consideration.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE TO HOST FARM BILL LISTENING SESSION
The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture will continue to take input from America’s farmers, ranchers and agriculture industry stakeholders on 2018 Farm Bill priorities when it holds its next hearing – “The Next Farm Bill, Conversations in the Field” – in Cobleskill, N.Y., on Oct. 9.