For the Week Ending March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

Washington, March 13, 2009 
NPPC URGES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT, FUND MANDATORY ANIMAL ID SYSTEM


Saying a mandatory animal identification system is needed to maintain the viability of the U.S. pork industry and all of animal agriculture, NPPC this week urged Congress to support and fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Identification System. Testifying before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, NPPC President Don Butler said a mandatory animal ID system will:

·   Provide U.S. pork producers and federal and state animal health officials with improved tools to manage swine herd health through disease surveillance, control and eradication programs.

·   Enable U.S. pork producers to maintain and promote access to international markets, which are critical to the continued viability of the pork industry.

·   Strengthen the security of the nation’s livestock industry, especially in the event of an intentional introduction of a pathogen or toxin that could affect animal health.

The goal of an ID system is trace back of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease, which will allow it to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, thereby saving taxpayer dollars and animals and keeping foreign markets open to our exports, Butler told the panel. The U.S. pork industry in 1988 established a swine ID system, which helped eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. It since has enhanced its system by registering swine premises and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale. Through 2008, NPPC and the National Pork Board had registered about 54,000, or 80 percent, of the estimated 67,300 hog farms. Premises registration data includes the physical location of a farm, a contact telephone number and other publicly available information. USDA in 2004 established the National Animal Identification System, but a series of missteps, misinformation from groups opposed to it and, now, a lack of federal funding have hampered implementation of the animal ID system. NPPC urged Congress and the Obama administration to support and provide adequate funds for a mandatory national animal identification system for all relevant livestock species, allowing each industry to develop its own effective and affordable system.

EPA PROPOSES GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS REPORTING RULE

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week issued a proposed rule to require businesses, including livestock operations, to report emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, so-called greenhouse gases. Operations that emit 25,000 metric tons or more a year of the covered gases would be subject to the regulation. The rule would mandate that livestock producers report total emissions and details about their operations; they would need to maintain annual records of “significant” on-farm activities. The agency estimates that the rule would cover just 40 to 50 livestock operations and that compliance costs would be only $900 per facility. NPPC is reviewing the 1,411-page proposed rule. In a related matter, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is sending to various organizations and individuals involved in agriculture a questionnaire about their role in reducing greenhouse gases and in the coming congressional debate over climate change. Click here to download the questionnaire, which must be returned to the Agriculture Committee by April 10.

NEW OFFICERS, BOARD MEMBERS ELECTED AT NPPC ANNUAL MEETING

NPPC at its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum held March 5-7 in Dallas, elected new officers and members to its board of directors. Taking over as president of the organization is Don Butler, director of government relations and public affairs for Murphy-Brown LLC – the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc. Sam Carney, a producer from Adair, Iowa, was elevated to president-elect. Butler served a president-elect and Carney was vice president of the organization from March 9, 2008. Doug Wolf was elected to the vice president’s position. Each was elected for a one-year term. Re-elected to the board for three-year terms in the producer category were Butler, from Clinton, N.C.; Bob Dykhuis, from Holland, Mich.; and Wolf, from Lancaster, Wis. Howard Hill, DVM, from Cambridge, Iowa, was elected to a three-year term. Todd Neff, with Tyson Fresh Meats from Dakota Dunes, S.D., was re-elected to a two-year term as the Packer Processor Industry Council representative. In addition to the newly elected and re-elected officers and board members, continuing as NPPC directors are: Gary Asay, from Osco, Ill.; Kathy Chinn, from Clarence, Mo.; R.C. Hunt, from Wilson, N.C.; Mark Legan, from Coatesville, Ind.; Larry Liepold, from Okabena, Minn.; Bill Luckey, from Columbus, Neb.; and Randy Spronk, from Edgerton, Minn. Quentin Bottorff, who works for Phibro Animal Health, remains as the allied industry representative. Bryan Black, who runs Ned Black & Sons farm in Canal Winchester, Ohio, will serve on the board as immediate past president. Producers Rick Rehmeier, from Augusta, Mo., and Joe Popplewell, from Hennessey, Okla., were elected for one-year terms to NPPC’s Nominating Committee, which reviews the credentials of candidates for the organization’s board of directors.

NPPC PASSES RESOLUTIONS ON ETHANOL, OTHER ISSUES

At its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum held March 5-7 in Dallas, NPPC adopted a number of resolutions, including ones that call for:

·   The federal government, once the ethanol blender’s credit and tariff on ethanol imports expire at the end of 2010, to “transition” to a counter-cyclical payment system that provides ethanol producers a safety net during severe economic times. Currently, ethanol producers receive a federal tax credit of 45 cents for each gallon of ethanol produced; there is a 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol.

·   Opposition to giving incentives, including subsidies, for cellulosic ethanol production from corn-ethanol co-products and to any increase in existing federal or state mandates on corn-based ethanol usage. The federal Renewable Fuels Standard calls for the production of 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2022.

·   Opposition to increasing the percentage of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline from its current 10 percent rate.

·   Opposition to efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from farms.

·   Evaluating the economic, policy and regulatory impact on the U.S. pork industry of so-called global warming.

·    Improvements in unloading procedures for pigs at packing plants, including a protocol for dealing with pigs still on trucks when a plant is shut down by inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service.

·   USDA to publish weekly pork export data.

·   Increasing USDA’s Farm Service Agency loan guarantee levels to $5 million from just under $1 million. Such loans are used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed and seed and for building construction and farm improvements.

·   NPPC to give input and provide direction to USDA to ensure that the rules for the Country-of-Origin Labeling law and its implementation do not cause harm to the pork industry.

·   All pork producers to participate in the U.S. pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance-Plus program, which educates producers about best management practices and includes on-farm site assessments and potential third-party audits of production practices.

·   Pork processors to encourage animal transporters to become certified under the U.S. pork industry’s Transport Quality Assurance program

USTR NOMINEE KIRK CLEARS HURDLE 

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday by voice vote approved the nomination of former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk to be U.S. Trade Representative. The Senate now must act on the nomination. During a confirmation hearing, Kirk said the Obama administration would focus on trade enforcement and that the U.S. is prepared to consider World Trade Organization action to deal with the proliferation of sanitary and phytosanitary standards being used by some countries to keep U.S. agricultural products out of their markets. He would not commit to the U.S. participating in the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership negotiations with the so-called P4 countries – Chile, Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore. In late September, the Bush administration announced that it would enter the negotiations, a move hailed by NPPC. In written responses to questions posed by Finance Committee members released yesterday, Kirk reiterated the Obama administration’s interest in finding ways to move forward on the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. In a related matter, President Obama this week announced the nomination Demetrios Marantis, chief trade counsel for Senate Finance Committee for one of three deputy USTR positions.

MERC AWARDS PORK INDUSTRY SCHOLARSHIPS

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange at NPPC’s annual business meeting held last week in Dallas awarded scholarships to four college students who intend to pursue careers in the pork industry. NPPC administers the scholarship selection process. The winners of the $2,500 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarships – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, N.C. – are:

Bailey Jo Albright, Coldwater, Mich., Michigan State University.
Paul Keppy, Davenport, Iowa, Iowa State University.
Danielle Guilliams, St Louis, Mo., University of Missouri.
Emily Arkfeld, Dunbar, Neb., University of Nebraska.

This is the 19th year of the CME scholarship program, which recognizes outstanding youth in the pork community. To be eligible, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals.

WHAT’S AHEAD

NPPC SPRING LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE SET

NPPC’s Spring Legislative Conference will be held April 1-2 in Washington, D.C. Pork producers will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional representatives to discuss key issues currently affecting the U.S. pork industry. The highlight of the two-day conference is the Washington-famous NPPC “Rack of Pork” congressional reception April 1. For more information, click here.