For the Week Ending March 4, 2022

March 4, 2022

SUPREME COURT AGAIN CONSIDERS WHETHER TO HEAR PROP. 12 CASE
The NPPC-American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale in the state of pork from hogs born to sows raised anywhere in housing that does not meet California’s arbitrary standards, is again on the U.S. Supreme Court’s weekly conference agenda for the justices to consider. The high court at each of its previous conferences held this year has put off making a decision about reviewing the NPPC-AFBF case, which argues that Prop. 12 violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause limiting states’ ability to regulate commerce outside their borders. Although Prop. 12 took effect Jan. 1, a California Superior Court recently delayed its effective date until 180 days after final implementing regulations are issued. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is now writing those rules. An announcement on the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case may come Monday.

USTR RELEASES 2022 TRADE AGENDA, 2021 ANNUAL REPORT ON TRADE EFFORTS
The Office of the United States Trade Representative this week released the Biden administration’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report to Congress, detailing accomplishments and progress on promoting sustainable environmental practices in trade policy, enforcing existing trade agreements, improving the resilience of global supply chains and combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. USTR also relayed how the administration has realigned the country’s bilateral trade relationship with China to protect the rights of American workers, farmers, producers and businesses and ensure they can compete on a level playing field. One of the priorities on USTR’s 2022 trade agenda is negotiating the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a key part of the administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy to strengthen U.S. economic ties to the region. It also will support reform of the World Trade Organization, including restoring the effectiveness of the WTO’s negotiating arm and promoting transparency, improving countries’ compliance with their WTO commitments and equipping the organization to better address unfair trade practices and global market distortions. For its part, NPPC will continue working with the Biden administration and USTR on many of the trade barriers listed in the annual report. Its recent efforts have included getting tariff reductions on U.S. pork from the Philippines – resulting in a 78% increase in 2021 pork exports there – and Vietnam and opening access to the Indian and Nigerian markets. (Click here to read the agenda and annual report.)

ADMINISTRATION TO ADDRESS PORT ISSUES; SENATE PANEL HEARS FROM FMC
The Biden administration this week said it soon will take additional steps to address supply chain issues, including providing funds to improve U.S. transportation systems. David Kamin, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, told Brownfield Ag News that $14 billion from the infrastructure bill approved last year will fund 500 transportation-related projects across the country “to strengthen supply chains, improve waterways and reduce flooding.” The administration also will launch a new Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and Department of Justice initiative to promote competition in ocean freight shipping and will “ramp up oversight of the global shipping industry,” said Kamin. NPPC has been urging the administration to modernize the nation’s shipping ports and address port disruptions, as well as asking the FMC to reign in the use of detention and demurrage fees charged by shipping ports, terminal operators and common carriers on exporters and importers. The organization was among 89 agriculture and business groups that last week sent a letter of support for the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022” (S. 3580) to bill sponsors Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD). The House late last year approved a similar measure. Among other actions, S. 3580 would formalize an FMC interpretive rule on detention and demurrage charges and define the parameters for using them. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Thursday held a hearing on the legislation and efforts to increase the FMC’s oversight of international ocean carriers. FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei and Commissioner Rebecca Dye testified before the panel. (Click here to watch the hearing, which begins at 49:40.)

FORSETH NEW NPPC DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL HEALTH
Dr. Anna Forseth this week began her duties as NPPC director of animal health, a newly created position that will focus on foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness, as well as antibiotic use and resistance issues. A Montana native who grew up on the family’s farrow-to-finish swine operation near Three Forks, Forseth received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Montana State University, her DVM from Colorado State University and a master’s in veterinary preventive medicine from Iowa State University. Prior to joining NPPC, she was a program veterinarian for the Montana Department of Livestock, overseeing foreign animal disease preparedness, including grant projects, the Secure Food Supply, the Swine Health Improvement Plan, One Health activities and disease programs. While earning her master’s degree, Forseth was a research associate at Iowa State’s Swine Medicine Education Center and a veterinarian for Smithfield Foods at its hog production operation in Algona, IA. She completed student internships with Pipestone Veterinary Services in Pipestone, MN, and with the National Pork Board in Des Moines, IA. In 2010, she was the recipient of an NPPC-CME Group college scholarship. The program is for students who intend to pursue careers in the U.S. pork industry. Forseth reports to Andrew Bailey, NPPC’s science and technology legal counsel, and works out of the organization’s Washington, DC, office.

USDA TO HOLD WEBINAR ON GRANTS FOR EXPANDING MEATPACKING CAPACITY
USDA Monday, March 7 at 2 p.m. Eastern time will hold a webinar on its program for expanding meatpacking capacity for those interested in applying for grants. Last week, the agency announced it is making a first tranche of funding – $150 million of $375 million total – available for efforts to increase packing capacity, with individual grants of up to $25 million for construction or expansion of packing facilities and for equipment purchases. Applications for the grants are due by April 11. A second tranche of grant funds – the remaining $225 million – will be made available this summer, along with $275 million in lending capital. Last August, NPPC submitted comments to USDA on how and to whom to distribute funds the Biden administration dedicated to expanding capacity as a way to improve competition in the meatpacking industry. (To register for the webinar, click here.)

U.S. MAY WITHDRAW PREFERENTIAL TRADE STATUS FOR RUSSIA, BELARUS
Following Canada’s lead, the United States is considering withdrawing the preferential trade treatment of goods from Russia and Belarus for their involvement in the invasion of Ukraine. Canada this week revoked Most Favored Nation (MFN) status for both countries and put a 35% tariff on their imports. Canada is the first country to impose trade sanctions on Russia and Belarus, which let Russian President Vladimir Putin use it as a staging area for the invasion. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) support repealing Russia’s permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, and in the House, Ways and Means Committee members Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) will introduce legislation that strips Russia of PNTR and calls for revoking that country’s membership in the World Trade Organization. The European Union also will consider ending Russia’s MFN status. Additionally, the United States and several other countries, including Canada, the EU and the United Kingdom, have restricted various products from being exported to Russia.

WHAT’S AHEAD

NPPC, NATIONAL PORK BOARD JOINT ANNUAL MEETING NEXT WEEK
NPPC and the National Pork Board will hold their joint annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – March 9-11 in Louisville, KY. During the in-person event – last year’s was virtual – NPPC will elect new officers and members to its board of directors. (For more information on and to register for the meeting, click here.)

NATIONAL AG DAY SET FOR MARCH 22
National Ag Day will be celebrated March 22. Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America and sponsored by dozens of other agricultural groups, including NPPC, Ag Day this year will focus on “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow,” highlighting farmers’ efforts to protect the environment. Because of COVID restrictions, most of the Ag Day events in Washington, DC, will be virtual. The Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall, which runs March 21-22, will be live. (For more information, click here.)