For the Week Ending May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020

NPPC URGES QUICK SENATE ACTION ON LIVESTOCK PROVISIONS OF COVID AID PACKAGE
On Thursday, NPPC held a media briefing to highlight the continued crisis on hog farms as a result of COVID-19 and the urgent need for the Senate to expeditiously adopt livestock agriculture provisions included in the COVID-relief legislation recently passed by the U.S. House. “All pork producers are hurting, and immediate action is imperative,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “We need the Senate to act quickly on companion legislation to provide this critical lifeline to hog farmers. Without prompt government assistance, many generational family farms will go bankrupt. This will destroy the livelihood of our communities and lead to consolidation and contraction in a farm sector that generates more than 500,000 jobs and $23 billion in personal income,” he added. The briefing also featured comments from hog farmers Chad Leman (Illinois), Mike Paustian (Iowa) and Kevin Hugoson (Minnesota), discussing the economic and emotional challenges they have encountered the past few months. A copy of NPPC’s press release can be viewed here, which includes extended comments and videos from all three producers. 

HOUSE APPROVES BILL PROVIDING PPP FLEXIBILITY
On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly approved H.R. 7010, by Reps. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas), which would provide businesses with greater flexibility in how they use the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and still have their loans forgiven. The legislation would expand the amount of time businesses have to spend the money from eight to 24 weeks; eliminate a requirement that businesses need to spend at least 75 percent of the funds on payroll if they want the full loan amount to be forgiven; extend the time period to rehire employees from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 and eliminate rehiring requirements; and clarify that employers in the PPP program can also benefit from the CARES Act payroll tax delay. With House passage, the bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval. The PPP still limits businesses to fewer than 500 employees. NPPC continues to advocate for small and mid-sized hog farms to receive an exemption on the number of employees to ensure they qualify to be eligible for the PPP.  

VIETNAM TO TEMPORARILY REDUCE MFN TARIFF RATES ON PORK
Vietnam announced this week it will temporarily reduce its Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates from 15 percent to 10 percent for frozen pork products. The United States is among countries able to receive the MFN rates and once implemented, this will level the playing field with other Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) countries that have free trade agreements with Vietnam. The temporary reductions will take effect July 10, through the end of the year. A trade agreement with Vietnam is a top priority for U.S. pork producers, especially as the country battles African swine fever and needs safe, reliable and affordable sources of pork. In August 2019, NPPC helped secure a USDA grant enabling the Swine Health Information Center to run a research project in Vietnam to better under the disease in an active-outbreak setting. 

USTR RELEASES NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES FOR U.S.-KENYA TRADE DEAL
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) recently released a summary of its negotiating objectives for an upcoming trade deal with Kenya. Among objectives are securing comprehensive market access for U.S. agricultural goods in Kenya by reducing or eliminating tariffs; eliminating practices that unfairly decrease U.S. market access opportunities or distort agricultural markets including non-tariff barriers that discriminate against U.S. agricultural goods and restrictive rules in the administration of tariff rate quotas; and providing for enforceable and robust Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) that build upon World Trade Organization rights and obligations. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced Tuesday it is seeking input for a newly initiated investigation into the economic effect of eliminating tariffs on imported goods from Kenya. The investigation was requested by USTR in March as part of the process for negotiating a U.S.-Kenya trade deal, and ITC plans to complete its report by Sept. 16. In late April, NPPC submitted comments to USTR in support of the trade deal. While the United States is the top global exporter of pork, it has not exported pork to Kenya since 2016 due to tariff and non-tariff barriers. Specifically, Kenya has a 25 percent duty on U.S. pork products and complex, non-transparent and costly requirements for importation of meat products, including pork. “NPPC will give enthusiastic support to an FTA [free trade agreement] with Kenya that eliminates all tariffs on U.S. pork and allows for the import of pork using science-based and internationally recognized regulatory standards,” NPPC wrote.  

USDA UPDATES ASF RESPONSE PLAN
On Thursday, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) updated its African swine fever (ASF) strategic plan and expanded it into a full response as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen response capabilities in the event of an outbreak. The USDA APHIS USDA Response Plan: The Red Book May 2020 elevates preparedness activities in the United States should ASF enter the country. ASF is an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. Among provisions, the response plan provides: a comprehensive feral swine response; an outline of USDA authorities and APHIS guidance specific to an ASF response; specific response actions that will be taken if ASF is detected; updated USDA APHIS National Stop Movement Guidance and changes to surveillance guidance. To view the Red Book, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/fadprep. The agency anticipates there will be updates to the ASF Response Plan as new capabilities and processes become available. NPPC supports USDA’s efforts to ensure ASF isn’t spread to the United States. NPPC continues to work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which along with USDA, are our first line of defense to prevent ASF. In March, President Donald Trump signed into law legislation that authorized funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports, as well as 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new canine teams. NPPC is working with CBP to ensure sufficient funding on this effort, and to date has helped the agency receive an additional $19.6 million in the FY2020 budget.