For the Week Ending September 9, 2022

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NPPC, Farm Bureau Respond to Proponents Of Proposition 12
In their U.S. Supreme Court case against California’s Proposition 12, NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) this week filed a brief in response to issues raised by those who want the law upheld. Proposition 12 bans the sale in California of pork not produced according to the state’s production standards; nearly all pork currently produced in the United States fails to meet California’s criteria.

NPPC and AFBF argue that the 2018 ballot initiative violates the U.S. Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause by being “impermissibly extraterritorial” — that is, regulating out-of-state commerce — and failing to balance state health and safety concerns against the initiative’s negative effects on interstate commerce. The agricultural organizations contend that because California imports almost all of its pork, the practical effect of Proposition 12 is to regulate wholly out-of-state commerce. They also point out that the law’s health claim — that its requirements promote food safety — is “so patently false that California has declined to defend it.”

In their reply brief, NPPC and AFBF refute arguments from the Humane Society of the United States, other animal-rights groups, and the state of California that Proposition 12 doesn’t affect interstate commerce, calling their assertions “wrong, showing a lack of knowledge of pigs, the industry, its markets, and federal oversight.”

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court’s nine justices will take place Oct. 11, and a decision in the case could come before the end of the year.

Ironically, the same day NPPC and AFBF filed their reply brief, the California Department of Food and Agriculture completed the Proposition 12 implementation rules, more than three years after the original statutory deadline. Earlier this year, a California superior court delayed the effective date of Proposition 12 for 180 days after final implementing regulations were issued.

[Read the NPPC-AFBF reply brief]

USDA Proposes Changes to Rule Related to Livestock Indemnity
USDA is proposing to make changes to regulations for payment of indemnity for the destruction and disposition of livestock and poultry its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) classifies as infected with, suspected of, or exposed to “diseases of concern,” including foreign animal, emerging, and program diseases. Current regulations for valuing animals for indemnification purposes vary from species to species and, sometimes, from disease to disease within a species.

The new rule would harmonize how APHIS determines animal values and deals with costs associated with transporting, cleaning, and disposing of diseased animals. Methods currently include flat rates and in-person appraisals, with the latter being the most common method specified in the regulations.

USDA wants to use an annual indemnity value table for livestock, with allowances for appraisals only when a value cannot be calculated using the tables, or when a producer appeals the indemnity value based on extraordinary circumstances. The agency also would provide indemnity values by animal classes similar to the Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program.

Additionally, APHIS wants to consolidate all commodity indemnity regulations under one provision of the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA). Currently, species and their diseases are listed in separate parts of the AHPA even though the process for requesting and obtaining indemnity is “substantially similar” in each provision. Consolidating the rules would allow APHIS to harmonize how it addresses value determinations and compensation for cleaning and disposing of animals.

USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed changes, asking specifically whether there are species, commodity classes or intended uses within a species, or other considerations that would merit separate provisions. The agency also is requesting input on sections where the disease management approach could be significantly altered by the consolidation of the indemnification process.

NPPC will be submitting comments on the proposed rule changes before the comment period ends in early November.

[Read the Proposed Changes]

Nominee For USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Advances to Senate
The nomination of Doug McKalip, President Biden’s pick to be chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, this week was approved by the Senate Finance Committee. A vote by the full Senate to confirm him may come before Congress begins a month-long break in early October so members can campaign for reelection.

In early July, NPPC and 95 agricultural businesses and organizations sent a letter to Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), urging them to advance McKalip to the Senate for a confirmation vote, deeming him “eminently qualified to be a successful Chief Agricultural Negotiator in addressing the most pressing food and agriculture trade policy issues before us.”

McKalip currently serves as a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on trade, national security, and animal and plant health. He joined USDA in 1994 and served as confidential assistant to the secretary of agriculture and as director of public and legislative affairs for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He also served in USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and was director of the White House Rural Council during the Obama administration.

High-level Talks on Indo-Pacific Trade Initiative Begin
Trade ministers from 13 countries and the United States — represented by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai — met today and yesterday in Los Angeles on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, a U.S.-led initiative to forge closer ties among nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

The high-level meetings were expected to produce a plan for moving forward on each of four areas of mutual interest: trade, clean energy and climate change, supply chains and infrastructure, and taxation and anti-corruption. Talks are not expected to include discussions on tariffs.

NPPC has been urging the White House to pursue a more ambitious IPEF, one that addresses agricultural market access and non-tariff barriers to imports, at least.

Dolch is NPPC’s New Manager of Marketing and Digital Communications
Mikayla Dolch is the new manager of marketing and digital communications for NPPC. Working out of the organization’s Des Moines, Iowa, headquarters, she reports to Annemarie Pender, NPPC’s assistant vice president, marketing and communications.

Dolch came to NPPC from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, where she was deputy director of communications for Secretary Mike Naig. Among other duties, she managed the department’s public relations and oversaw visual and written content for its social media platforms.

Prior to that, Dolch worked in the corporate affairs department for the Renewable Energy Group — a biodiesel production company — as an administrative assistant for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, and as an intern for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and the Iowa Soybean Association. She also was an agricultural laborer for the Dolch Brothers Farms and served as the Iowa FFA Association southwest state vice president.

Raised on her family’s diversified livestock and row crop farm near Villisca, Iowa, Dolch attended Iowa State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and life sciences education and international agriculture. She received a master’s degree in international agriculture and agricultural communications from Oklahoma State University.

NPPC Fall Legislative Fly-in Next Week

NPPC’s fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., is Sept. 14-15. More than 100 pork producers from around the country are expected to attend next week’s biannual fly-in to meet with their members of Congress to discuss various issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry.

The Fall 2022 Legislative Action Conference is sponsored by Merck Animal Health.