For the Week Ending July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

USDA CONFIRMS ASF CASES IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
On Wednesday, USDA announced that the Dominican Republic (DR) has confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF). The cases were confirmed as part of a cooperative surveillance program between the United States and the DR. The United States remains free of ASF – an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health implications – and imports no pork, animal feed or other pork production-related products from the Dominican Republic. “The United States has significantly bolstered biosecurity to protect the U.S. swine herd since ASF broke in China nearly three years ago and began spreading to other parts of the world,” said NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom. “We are thankful for steps taken by the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including strengthened border inspection and the implementation of an active surveillance program designed to quickly detect and eradicate ASF.” For additional information on ASF biosecurity, please visit here

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS DENIES NPPC, AFBF PROPOSITION 12 CHALLENGE
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation’s joint complaint that California’s Proposition 12 is a violation of the U.S. Commerce Clause. Set to begin on Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 imposes animal housing standards that reach outside of California’s borders to farms across the United States and beyond. NPPC is disappointed in the court’s decision, and maintains its position on Proposition 12: it is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. NPPC is evaluating the decision and next steps. The state was required to finalize implementation regulations by September 2019, and only issued the proposed regulations in May. In recent comments to the state’s proposed regulations, NPPC urged the state to delay the Proposition 12 implementation by at least two years from the date when the regulations are finalized. 

EPA OUTLINES PLANS TO REVISE WOTUS DEFINITION; PUBLIC MEETINGS SCHEDULED FOR NEXT MONTH
On Friday morning, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army outlined plans for revising the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Specifically, the agencies plan to follow a two-pronged approach. A forthcoming foundational rule would restore the regulations defining WOTUS that were in place until 2015, with updates consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions. A separate, second rulemaking process would establish an updated and durable definition of WOTUS, the agencies explained. They also plan a public comment period for stakeholders to provide written comments, as well as a series of public meetings in August to hear perspectives on both rules. Under the Obama administration in 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a new WOTUS rule that gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. The WOTUS rule was immediately challenged in court and subject to several preliminary injunctions. The Trump administration repealed the 2015 rule in 2019 and in June 2020, replaced it with the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which NPPC supported. NPPC looks forward to constructively engaging the administration to ensure the voice of agriculture, the respect for private property rights and the practical needs of farmers to produce food are understood. 

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RESCINDS TRUMP-ERA JOINT EMPLOYER RULE
On Thursday, the Department of Labor (DOL) officially withdrew the Trump administration joint- employer rule finalized last spring. The previous rule utilized a four-factor test for determining whether a business jointly employed workers with another business, with hiring/firing authority, scheduling, pay, and recordkeeping evaluated. Thursday’s decision paves the way for a return to the Obama-era joint- employer definition, which accounts for elements of “indirect” or “potential control.” This could have significant implications for any business that jointly employs a worker, as the business would be jointly liable for wage violations, injury or other issues with the other company. To read the rule, click here

SENATE INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE PASSES FIRST HURDLE; FORMAL CONSIDERATION AHEAD
By a 67-32 vote on Wednesday, the Senate took the first procedural step toward debating the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. This vote came after an unsuccessful one the previous Wednesday, where Republicans unanimously voted against formal consideration due to a lack of finalized details of an agreement. While the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a deal earlier this summer, changes regarding funding remain undecided, including whether to use increased IRS enforcement as a revenue tool. That has since been replaced by funding from unused unemployment insurance aid. The next hurdle for the overall infrastructure package will be scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, where it will be determined whether the cost of the bill is revenue neutral, offset through other means. This effort is separate from a budget reconciliation driven “human infrastructure” package expected from Democrats later this year. 

UN FOOD SYSTEMS PRE-SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS ESSENTIAL ROLE FOR ANIMAL PROTEIN
The United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit virtual event in Rome was held earlier this week as a precursor to the UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September. USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh led the U.S. delegation and an NPPC representative also attended the event. The summit focused on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, which rely on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems. In addition, NPPC participated in three side events, including one focused on global innovations in sustainable animal protein. Speakers discussed the essential role of animal protein that cannot be replaced by plant protein and the need to remain innovative through genetic research, advanced breeding and precision technology, among other issues.  

SENATE AG COMMITTEE APPROVES MOFFITT NOMINATION
On Monday, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the nomination of Jennifer Moffitt as the administration’s nominee for under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs at USDA. Moffitt currently serves as undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It’s unclear when the full Senate will vote on her nomination. Earlier this month, NPPC joined 90 other agriculture groups in a letter of support for Moffitt. A copy of the letter is available here

NPPC ADDS TO DES MOINES STAFF
This month, NPPC added Josh Scramlin to its Des Moines, Iowa, office. Scramlin, who started last week as regional manager of producer services, most recently was with the Mid-West Farm Report in Wisconsin, where he produced daily agricultural updates for the 26-station radio network. In his new position, Scramlin will work with the Indiana, Michigan and Ohio state pork organizations to recruit pork producers to and retain producers already in the NPPC Strategic Investment Program (SIP). NPPC is excited to welcome Josh to the team. 

WHAT’S AHEAD?

NPPC TO TESTIFY ON PROPOSED IMPLEMENTATION RULES FOR MASSACHUSETTS QUESTION 3
On Tuesday, Aug. 3, NPPC will be testifying and submitting comments on proposed implementation rules for Massachusetts’ Question 3, a 2016 ballot initiative which prohibits the sale of pork produced using certain production methods. In many ways, Question 3 is substantially similar to Proposition 12, a California ballot initiative which passed in 2018. The Massachusetts initiative is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2022. The hearing is being held by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.