For the Week Ending March 12, 2021

March 12, 2021

PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNS INTO LAW $1.9 TRILLION COVID RELIEF PACKAGE
This week, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Among key provisions, it includes $3.6 billion to USDA to ensure the continuity of the food and agriculture supply chains. Specifically, the funds would be used for USDA to purchase and distribute food and agricultural commodities, including pork, and provide grants and loans to small and mid-sized farms, food processors and distributors. NPPC supports efforts to ensure the continuity of the meat supply chain.  

LAWMAKERS URGE FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION TO ADDRESS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ SHIPPING CONTAINER SHORTAGE
This week, 111 U.S. House members wrote to the Federal Maritime Commission chairman, sharing “mounting concern over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from our ports.” As the members wrote, there are reports that VOCCs “are delivering shipments to U.S. ports and then electing to leave without refilling empty containers with American goods for export. Such activity constricts entire supply chains and propels trade to move only in an inbound direction. These conditions are unsustainable for exporters, put significant strain on the U.S. economy, and simply unacceptable.” The members urged the chairman to urgently resolve the matter. NPPC has been actively working on resolving the issue, recently joining more than 70 groups in sending a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to address this shipping crisis.  

SENATE CONFIRMS MICHAEL REGAN AS EPA ADMINISTRATOR
By a 66-34 vote, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved the nomination of Michael Regan as the next EPA administrator. NPPC recently spearheaded a letter signed by 23 national agriculture organizations, urging the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to confirm Regan. As Department of Environmental Quality secretary in North Carolina, a leading pork-producing state, he always had an open door, valued diverse points of view, and worked to find solutions that ensured science and data were guiding decisions.

LAWMAKERS URGED TO FULLY FUND USDA PROGRAMS SUPPORTING EXPORT MARKETS FOR AG GOODS
NPPC joined more than 100 agriculture groups in sending letters this week to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee chairs and ranking members, urging full funding for USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, which both support export markets for U.S. farm goods. “The twin challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as competitors’ export promotion programs, highlight the need for continued investment in these public-private partnerships….MAP/FMD funding is critical to help U.S. farmers, ranchers and food exporters keep pace and to help us make up for lost time after two and half years of trade conflict and retaliatory tariffs,” the letter said. A copy of the letter is available here.   

NPPC ANNOUNCES 2021 WORLD PORK EXPO 
The 2021 World Pork Expo will be held from June 9-11, NPPC announced this week. The event will be held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. “We’re more than thrilled to be hosting World Pork Expo this year,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. World Pork Expo is the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, where more than 20,000 industry professionals gather for three days to showcase innovations, introduce new products and participate in training and educational programs. Registration information will soon be available. 

WHAT’S AHEAD?
The U.S. Senate is anticipated to vote next week on the nomination of Katherine Tai as the next U.S. Trade Representative. During her confirmation hearing last month, she vowed to implement former President Trump’s trade deal with China, but also didn’t indicate a rush to finalize a U.S.-U.K. trade deal, or restart negotiations on rejoining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying she would need to review current negotiations. In January, NPPC joined more than 100 national and state farm groups in sending a letter to Congress in support of her nomination.