For the Week Ending September 22, 2017
BILL WOULD INCREASE FUNDING FOR AGRICULTURE EXPORT PROGRAMS
Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Angus S. King, I-Maine, Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, this week introduced bipartisan legislation, the “Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act,” to increase funding for two U.S. Department of Agriculture export promotion programs: the Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs. The bill, identical to one introduced in May in the House by Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, would double the programs’ current funding. NPPC, as a member of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, in early September was among the signatories to a letter to the House Committee on Agriculture emphasizing the need for increased funding for these programs.
HOUSE MEMBERS PETITION POTUS ON KORUS
Nineteen members of the House sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday urging the administration to stay committed to KORUS, the United States’ free trade agreement with Korea. The bipartisan letter addressed the national security and economic interests of the agreement, including agriculture, and noted the potential for a pact that has not yet been fully implemented. “It would be a grave error to withdraw from the agreement. If we were to do so, our exporters would experience devastatingly high barriers hurting American businesses, farmers and workers and benefiting their competitors in Asia and Europe,” the representatives said.
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT INCLUDES FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE PROVISION
The National Defense Authorization Act, approved this week, includes a provision by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, recognizing the risk of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) to the U.S. food production system and the country’s national security. Farm Bill funding for a manufacturer-managed FMD vaccine bank remains one of NPPC’s top advocacy priorities. Without better preparation, Iowa State University economists estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States would cost the beef, pork, corn and soybean industries alone $200 billion over 10 years.
VISA REFORM BILL EXPECTED SOON
In public remarks this week, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, suggested that his widely anticipated visa reform bill could be introduced as early as next week. The bill would increase the number of guest-worker visas available and reduce restrictions that producers face in using the H-2A program to remedy labor shortages on farms.
NEW ‘WOTUS’ RULE TO BE PROPOSED NEXT YEAR
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced this week that a new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule will be proposed in the first quarter of the new year. The announcement comes as the agency continues its efforts to repeal the 2015 Obama administration WOTUS rule, which broadened the EPA’s jurisdiction over “navigable” water to include, among other bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams, such as those used by farmers for drainage and irrigation, and the lands adjacent to such waters. NPPC, which led efforts to repeal the current rule, continues to work with the administration to find a more effective regulatory solution for the U.S. pork industry.
PORTUGAL RATIFIES EU, CANADA TRADE AGREEMENT
Portugal ratified the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada, becoming the sixth EU member to do so. With the EU as a top competitor of the U.S. pork industry, NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to explore bilateral trade agreements with other countries, beginning with Japan, to ensure that U.S. pork remains globally competitive.
NPPC URGES SENATE TO CONSIDER USDA SUBCABINET NOMINEES
NPPC, along with 50 other agriculture industry stakeholders, signed onto a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry urging the Senate to confirm USDA subcabinet nominees as soon as possible. USDA leadership is needed to effectively and efficiently manage the department’s 29 agencies and offices and nearly 100,000 employees at more than 4,500 locations.
NPPC SUPPORTS U.S. CODEX OFFICE REORGANIZTION
NPPC, as a member of the Food Industry Codex Coalition, supports the USDA’s proposal to place the U.S. Codex Office under the authority of the USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs. The move would strengthen Codex Office leadership and visibility and improve its ability to advance science-based standards for and limit unscientific barriers on U.S. food and agriculture trade.
NPPC ADVOCATES FOR PORT REGUALTORY REFORM
As a member of the Fair Port Practices Coalition, NPPC joined 69 other U.S. trade organizations on a letter to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, expressing concerns about their 2017 Clean Air Action Plan. The CAAP, which is required by California law, outlines strategies for reducing air pollution from all port-related sources, for meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals and achieving zero emissions for trucks and terminal equipment. The groups were critical of the draft CAAP’s “lack of information with respect to the commercial availability of specified technologies, the uncertainty of the draft plan’s cost, the absence of any analysis regarding the ports’ future competitiveness, the exclusion of certain technologies and fuels, and the lack of a cost-benefit analysis on the air quality benefits that would result from this program.” NPPC also joined the Ports Coalition in petitioning the Federal Maritime Commission regarding unfair daily charges and other business practices being levied against shippers due to inefficient port operations. As a member of the Ports Coalition, NPPC remains focused on the efficient and competitive operation of U.S. ports to globally distribute U.S. pork products and support international trade.
NAFTA TALKS CONTINUE
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks are set to continue in Ottawa, Sept. 23-27. This will be the third round of talks, with the first two failing to yield any resolutions on major issues affecting agriculture. As retaliation threats continue to loom over a rumored U.S. proposal on protections for seasonal fruit and vegetable growers, retaining the zero-tariff rate on pork and ensuring that current market access is maintained remain NPPC’s top trade priorities.