For the Week Ending September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

COALITION URGES CONGRESS TO ADDRESS AGRICULTURAL INSPECTOR FUNDING SHORTFALL 
A top priority for NPPC is ensuring African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases don’t enter the country. U.S. agricultural inspectors at borders and ports are our first line to defense to protect against the entrance of these diseases. However, there is a significant and dangerous shortfall in agricultural inspector funding that needs to be addressed. On Friday, a coalition of 195 agriculture, trade and related groups led by NPPC sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them to address the dangerous funding shortfall in the continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept.30. The U.S. agricultural inspectors are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program user fees, however due to the COVID-related economic downturn and travel restrictions, there has been an unprecedented and dangerous drop in the collection of these user fees. With travel and cargo arrivals not likely to recover next year, USDA estimates that it will require $630 million to fund these agricultural inspections through the fiscal year ending in September 2021. “We urge Congress to ensure that the essential work of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture inspectors continues uninterrupted. We depend on AQI to ensure that America’s agriculture sector remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections,” the coalition wrote. A copy of the coalition’s letter is available here

COVID RELIEF, FOREIGN ANIMAL DISEASE PREVENTION AMONG TOP LAC ISSUES
NPPC held its Fall Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week, with pork producers from across the country gathering virtually to address five critical issues of importance, including a COVID-relief package that includes much-needed assistance to hog farmers in crisis and foreign animal disease prevention. Among LAC speakers were House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Burke Healey. Last week, Germany reported its first case of ASF in a wild boar. The swine-only disease continues to spread in parts of Europe and Asia, and the United States needs to remain vigilant to ensure ASF and other animal and plant diseases don’t enter the country. NPPC is urging Congress to fully fund foreign animal disease prevention programs. U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously. “Without a prompt resolution, there will be an estimated $630 million shortfall in AQI funding through the end of fiscal year 2021. It is imperative that this funding shortfall be addressed to protect the U.S. swine herd and all of agriculture from foreign animal and plant diseases,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis. NPPC also held a media briefing on Thursday, in which Roth, NPPC President-Elect Jen Sorenson and NPPC Vice President Terry Wolters joined NPPC staff in outlining these and other top issues for U.S. pork producers. To learn more about the remaining top critical issues of importance for U.S. pork producers, click here.  

USDA ANNOUNCES SECOND COVID ASSISTANCE PACKAGE
On Friday, USDA announced its second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) relief package that includes $14 billion in planned agricultural product purchases. Eligible hog payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between April 16 and Aug. 31, 2020. Additionally, there is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Enrollment begins Monday through Dec. 11. Additional information is available here. NPPC believes while the direct payments to hog farmers will offset some losses for some farmers, they continue to not be sufficient to help pork producers through this unprecedented emergency. NPPC is thankful for USDA commodity purchases, plans to continue to advocate for assistance in the next COVID relief package that includes the following priorities:  1) compensation for euthanized and donated hogs; 2) additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners; 3) modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding; 4) additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and; 5) extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it useful to more producers.

DOT EXTENDS HOURS OF SERVICE WAIVERS FOR LIVESTOCK, FEED THROUGH 2020
Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration for Hours of Service (HOS) waivers for the transportation of livestock and livestock feed through the end of the year. HOS governs the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. NPPC thanks the administration and FMCSA for ensuring the continuity of the U.S pork supply chain as an essential element of the nation’s food delivery infrastructure. To read the full announcement, visit here

CANADA NO LONGER PURSUING FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH CHINA
On Friday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the country is no longer pursuing a free trade agreement with China. A Canada-China trade agreement had been a top priority for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but talks had stalled the past few years. In January, the U.S. and China agreed to a phase-one trade agreement that includes $40 billion in agricultural purchases, including pork, by far the most significant protein consumed in China. Recently, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified that he anticipates China meeting its phase-one commitments.

NPPC OPPOSES FDA PROPOSAL ADDRESSING RESIDUES OF ANIMAL DRUG
On Thursday, NPPC submitted comment on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed action to revoke the approved method for assessing residues of carbadox, an animal drug used in swine for production and therapeutic purposes. “Carbadox has been effectively used by most pork producers for decades to support animal health, while adhering to the 42-day withdrawal period. Since carbadox is mainly used pigs at the nursery stage, the 42-day withdrawal period is likely extended to 60 days or more, resulting in an additional safety buffer against residues. Pork producers prioritize the avoidance of violative residues of all animal health products,” NPPC explained. “The removal of carbadox from the marketplace would inevitably increase the use of other antibiotics and increase the likelihood of difficult-to-control antimicrobial resistance in important bacterial pathogens. We believe this to be in direct conflict with the objectives of FDA’s Guidance for Industry 213 and the goals outlined in FDA’s 2018 five-year plan, including aligning antimicrobial drug product use with the principles of antimicrobial stewardship and fostering stewardship of antimicrobials in veterinary settings,” NPPC wrote. “If FDA has concerns about the method it uses to test carbadox residue, NPPC believes the agency should work with the sponsor to develop and approve a new regulatory method rather than remove this very effective, non-medically important antibiotic,” NPPC added. To read NPPC’s full comments, click here.  

NPPC DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS MARIA ZIEBA NAMED TO TRADE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
This week, NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba was named to the Association of Women in International Trade’s (WITT) board of directors. WITT, based in Washington, D.C., works to promote the professional development of women in international trade and business and to raise public awareness of the importance of international trade to economic development. Zieba will join as one of the only voices representing U.S. agriculture on the WIIT board of directors.  

WHAT’S AHEAD?

NPPC SPEAKING AT AGRI PULSE’S AG & FOOD POLICY SUMMIT ON SEPT. 21
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and NPPC Manager of Congressional Relations Andrew Fisher are speaking at Agri Pulse’s virtual Agriculture & Food Policy Summit on Monday, Sept. 21. Dr. Wagstrom will discuss African swine fever, an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks, and the need for Congress to fully fund U.S. agriculture inspectors, our first line of defense to ensure ASF and other foreign animal diseases don’t enter the country. Fisher will discuss NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference. To register or learn more, visit here.