For the Week Ending April 25, 2009

April 25, 2009

Washington, April 25, 2009 

PORK PRODUCERS SHOULD PROTECT HERDS FROM FLU OUTBREAK

NPPC and the National Pork Board are urging all pork producers to take steps to prevent their pigs from contracting swine influenza. A number of people in California and Texas and in Mexico in the past few days have been identified as having swine flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working on the issue and has noted that the flu strain is one not previously seen in people or pigs. CDC has said that the current flu cases have been transmitted from person to person, that the swine flu strain is not from the U.S. swine herd and that U.S. pork is safe to eat. NPPC and the Pork Board are recommending that pork producers work with their herd veterinarian to reduce transmission of influenza viruses by:

–   Giving influenza virus vaccinations to pigs.

–   Giving seasonal influenza virus vaccinations to swine farm workers
.
–   Establishing, implementing and enforcing strict leave policies for workers who exhibit influenza-type symptoms.

–   Implementing worker sick-leave policies that encourage employees to remain away from work when they are suffering from acute respiratory infections.

–   Maintaining appropriate ventilation in the barns.

–   Enforcing basic hygiene and biosecurity practices, including the use of personal protective gear.

–   Preventing pig-to-bird contact by making buildings bird proof and treating water if it is supplied from an open body of water where birds and migratory fowl may be found.

–   Restricting public access to barns

For more information on influenza, click here.

FOOD-SAFETY SYSTEM NEEDS PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP TO BE EFFECTIVE

To be effective, the nation’s food-safety system must have adequate funding and personnel, food-safety policies and procedures based on sound science and a partnership between federal food-safety agencies and food producers, NPPC Thursday told a congressional panel. NPPC Past President Jill Appell, a pork producer from Altona, Ill., told the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry that, for the most part, federal food-safety agencies, particularly the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which oversees the safety of pork and other meat and poultry products, do a good job. But there is room for improvement. NPPC urged lawmakers to:

–   Establish food safety objectives linked to public health outcomes rather than arbitrary targets.

–   Improve communication about food safety issues among state and federal public health official and the food industry.

–   Encourage FSIS veterinarians and inspectors to apply the guidelines for fatigued pigs consistently across the industry.

–   Fully fund programs that monitor antimicrobial resistance.

–   Require FSIS inspectors to follow current processes and procedures for testing pork for antibiotic residues.

–   Base best handling practices and inspections for processing facilities on science.

–   Establish, with input from all stakeholders, proportional responses to animal welfare issues that might arise at processing facilities.

–   Improve the ability of food-safety agencies to hire and maintain the work force necessary to carry out inspections that ensure the safety of food.

NPPC DISCUSSES TRADE ISSUES WITH USTR AMBASSADOR KIRK

NPPC President Don Butler, CEO Neil Dierks and Vice President and Counsel for International Trade Policy Nick Giordano this week met with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk about trade issues. The NPPC group spoke with the new trade ambassador about the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, the Transpacific Strategic Economic Partnership negotiations, the Mexican trucking issue and pork issues related to Russia, China and Taiwan. NPPC works closely with USTR on trade issues, urging it to negotiate favorable treatment for pork in free trade agreements and to keep open existing markets.

EPA SEEKS COMMENTS ON INCREASING ETHANOL BLEND TO 15 PERCENT

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comments on a waiver application to increase the percentage of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline to 15 from the current level of 10 percent, which was set in 1978. The comment period ends in mid-May. EPA is responding to a request from Growth Energy, which represents ethanol, and 54 ethanol manufacturers to increase the blend percentage. EPA must make a decision on the waiver application by Dec. 1, 2009. NPPC has asked the Obama administration to study the economic impact of an expansion of corn-ethanol production and usage before increasing the blend percentage.

CLIMATE CHANGE HEARINGS HELD

The House Energy and Commerce Committee this week held hearings on climate change and the American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009, legislation sponsored by panel chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass. Among those testifying were U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Sec. Steven Chu and Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood. Business organizations, policy think tanks and environmental groups also testified on the impact climate change legislation could have on the economy. The 648-page Waxman-Markey bill calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels and an 83 percent cut by 2050. While proponents of the measure said it would create millions of “green” jobs, critics said it would cost jobs and significantly raise energy prices. NPPC is closely monitoring the debate on climate change.

NORTH AMERICAN PORK INDUSTRY TALKS

NPPC President Don Butler, President-elect Sam Carney, Vice President Doug Wolf, CEO Neil Dierks, Vice President and International Trade Counsel Nick Giordano and NPPC staff this week met in Williamsburg, Va., with their counterparts from the Canadian Pork Council and the Federation of Mexican Pork Producers to discuss mutual areas of concern to, and opportunities for, the North American pork industry. Among the topics discussed at this semi-annual meeting were animal identification, the environment, food safety, the U.S. Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling law and trade policy.

OBAMA NOMINATES TWO FOR USDA POSTS

President Obama recently sought to fill two more posts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nominating Dr. Rajiv Shah to be Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and picking Edward Avalos, a New Mexico agriculture marketing official, to be Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Shah currently is the director of Agricultural Development in the Global Development Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he manages its Agricultural Development program, including grant-making portfolios in science and technology, farmer productivity, market access and policy and statistics, with the goal of helping the world’s poor lead healthy and productive lives. Avalos has spent 34 years in agriculture marketing, including promoting the sale of peppers in 12 states; sheep, goats, and cattle in Mexico; and pecans in Japan and China.

WHAT’S AHEAD

IMMIGRATION HEARING NEXT WEEK

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees will hold a hearing on immigration reform Thursday, April 30.


WORLD PORK EXPO SET FOR JUNE 3-5

The 21st annual World Pork Expo will be held June 3-5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. As the largest pork-industry trade show and exhibition in the world, the expo draws more than 30,000 pork producers, exhibitors and visitors from across the country and around the globe. For more information, visit the World Pork Expo Web site at http://www.worldpork.org.