For the Week Ending October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

HOG FARMERS URGE IMMEDIATE COVID ACTION
On Thursday, President Trump expressed disappointment regarding the ongoing stalemate in the development of new COVID-relief legislation, saying his lead negotiator “hasn’t come home with the bacon.” Without immediate relief for hog farmers in crisis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may not be the only one not bringing home the bacon, NPPC said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “We’ve lost hog farmers of all sizes due to the COVID pandemic and need additional relief to preserve a highly competitive pork production system in the United States,” said NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. Meantime, as the president’s comments indicated, prospects for a new COVID relief package continued to dwindle this week. Negotiations between Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continue, but there has been little progress on areas of agreement. In one glimmer of hope though, the two sides are close to agreeing on a national testing plan. Earlier this month, the Democrat-controlled House passed a $2.2 trillion aid package and last week, the White House countered with a $1.8 trillion proposal, which Pelosi has already rejected. In related news, on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters he wouldn’t accept a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion. Instead, he prefers a more targeted approach, planning for the Senate to vote next week on a $500 billion package that includes replenishment of the Paycheck Protection Program. Read NPPC’s press release here.  

MEXICO ENACTS LAW REQUIRING FRONT-OF-PACKAGE LABELING ON PREPACKAED FOOD PRODUCTS
Earlier this month, Mexico modified its Foreign Trade Law Agreement to comply with its new Front-of-Package Labeling law that went into effect on Oct. 1. The modifications require shipments of prepackaged food products previously exempted from labeling to immediately comply with the new labeling law by removing exemptions for: imported goods that would not be sold to the public in the form in which they were imported; imported goods to be used directly by a company not subject to commercialization; products destined to remain in the border area or regions of Mexico; and products imported by those who carry out marketing activities and provide restaurant assistance. Prepackaged products within those categories—including foodservice products—must now comply with the new labeling standard. The U.S. exports processed pork to Mexico, which will now need to comply with this law, adding incremental costs and potentially reducing Mexican consumption of U.S.-processed pork.  

WTO GIVES GREEN LIGHT FOR EU TO IMPOSE TARIFFS ON U.S. GOODS
On Tuesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the European Union’s plan to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation to what the WTO believes are illegal U.S. subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Various U.S. foods are included in the tariff list under consideration, but it doesn’t include pork. In October 2019, following a similar WTO decision in a parallel case on European-based Airbus subsidies, the U.S. imposed retaliatory duties that affect EU exports worth $7.5 billion. These duties remain in place. The EU’s $4 billion in tariffs won’t be imposed until it receives an order from the WTO dispute settlement body to proceed. EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said he would prefer not to impose tariffs and is in talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on a possible resolution. As Lighthizer said, “The United States is determined to find a resolution to this dispute that addresses the massive subsidies European governments have provided to Airbus and the harm to U.S. aerospace workers and businesses. We are waiting for a response from the EU to a recent U.S. proposal and will intensify our ongoing negotiations with the EU to restore fair competition and a level playing field to this sector.” President Trump was more forceful in his comments on Thursday. “If they strike back, then we’ll strike much harder than they’ll strike,” he said.  

FACING COVID CHALLENGES ‘IN THE EYE OF THE STORM’To honor and celebrate National Pork Month, NPPC is turning over its Hogs on the Hill blog to guest authors. In NPPC’s second guest submission, Minnesota Pork Producers Association President John Anderson discusses challenges on being “in the eye of the storm” during the COVID crisis and highlights other high priority issues for U.S. pork producers. Read the full blog post here

NPPC SPEAKS UP
 NPPC officials regularly speak at conferences, government meetings and media events to discuss top issues affecting U.S. pork producers. Among events this week which included NPPC officials:

  • NPPC CEO Neil Dierks, Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano, Vice President of Industry Relations Dallas Hockman and Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom spoke at the council’s Pork Alliance’s virtual fall meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Dr. Wagstrom provided oral comments to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring public meeting on Wednesday, discussing the importance of partnerships in building a robust surveillance system for antimicrobial resistance. 
  • NPPC Assistant Vice President, Domestic Affairs and Counsel Michael Formica spoke Thursday at a virtual meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, discussing COVID-19’s impact on the pork supply chain.

WHAT’S AHEAD?
On Monday, Oct. 19, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom will be presenting to the United States Animal Health Association’s Committee on One Health, discussing COVID-19’s impact on U.S. pork producers.