Capital Update – For the Week Ending February 9, 2024

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: NPPC secures vaccine use policy win at NASDA meeting; coalition calls for extended comment period on proposed EPA rule; NPPC celebrates Japanese emperor’s birthday; NPPC mourns death of former USDA Under Secretary, Iowa Agriculture Secretary. Take a deeper dive below.

NPPC Secures Vaccine Use Policy Win at NASDA Meeting

What happened: In a significant victory for the pork industry, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) animal agriculture committee approved a new policy supporting the use of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine technology in animal agriculture. NPPC’s Dr. Ashley Johnson, director of food policy, and Drew Beardslee, director of state policy, led the efforts for adoption of this policy, including building a coalition to stand up for vaccine access.

At the NASDA meeting, Dr. Johnson also participated in a panel discussion where she stressed the importance of vaccine technologies for the pork industry and addressed questions on NPPC’s efforts on enhanced swine traceability standards.

NPPC’s take: NPPC’s supports the use of vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, as a necessary tool for combating endemic and foreign animal diseases.

Why it matters: Vaccines are critical to preserving animal health and well-being, keeping the food supply safe, and protecting U.S. livestock from emerging and foreign animal diseases.

Dr. Johnson at NASDA meeting

Dr. Johnson (far left) participates in a NASDA Animal Agriculture Committee panel. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Coalition Calls for Extended Comment Period on Proposed EPA Rule

What happened: NPPC, along with coalition members — including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the North American Meat Institute, and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association — requested, at minimum, an additional 90-day extension of time to comment on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations targeting meat and poultry plants.

In late January, EPA proposed significantly more stringent CWA effluent permitting guidelines for meatpacking facilities. If adopted, the new rule would apply to many of the nation’s 5,000 meat and poultry plants, requiring upgrades to facilities and installation of costly new wastewater treatment technologies.

EPA offered two options to broaden the proposal and cover more facilities, including indirect dischargers, that would have a wide range of impacts, including potentially forcing the closure of at least 16 meat and poultry processing plants and imposing regulations with direct costs of more than $1 billion on packers and processors.

NPPC’s take: In its Feb. 5 letter to EPA requesting the comment period extension, the coalition pointed out that the time allowed by EPA for comments was the minimum and that typically federal agencies allow for significantly more time to submit comments on complex rules. The coalition said EPA’s current proposal “significantly exceeds the length and complexity of the average federal rulemaking proposal and warrants longer than the ‘minimum’ 60-day comment period.” EPA is seeking comments on 43 separate topics and has included nearly 700 pages of technical analysis and studies that must be analyzed and fully understood to provide meaningful comments.

Why it matters: While the agriculture industry and the meat and poultry processing sector support clean water efforts, regulations must not place costly undue burdens on the regulated community or cause the loss of market opportunities for pork producers. At a time when producers are facing an unprecedented economic crisis, EPA’s proposal would significantly disrupt packing capacity and inflict additional financial harm on producers, potentially leading to further industry concentration and the loss of independent producers.

NPPC Celebrates Japanese Emperor’s Birthday

What happened: NPPC President Scott Hays, Vice President of International Affairs Maria C. Zieba, and Manager of International Affairs Cole Spain attended a celebration for Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s birthday. The event was held in Washington, D.C., at the residence of Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Shigeo Yamada.

Why it matters: Japan is one of the strongest allies of the United States in Asia and a top destination for U.S. agricultural products, including pork. Through November 2023, U.S. pork exports to Japan were nearly $1.3 billion, making the island nation the No. 3 foreign market for America’s pork producers.

In October 2019, the United States and Japan signed the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which took effect January 1, 2020, and eliminated or reduced tariffs on about $7.2 billion of U.S. agricultural exports. Duties on U.S. pork muscle cuts are being phased out over a nine-year period, while tariffs on processed product are phasing out over five years.

NPPC's Scott Hays with Ambassador Shigeo Yamada

Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shigeo Yamada and NPPC President Scott Hays discuss U.S. pork exports, as Koji recognizes Hays’ U.S. pork label pin.

Left to right: NPPC Manager of International Affairs Cole Spain, Vice President of International Affairs Maria C. Zieba, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shigeo Yamada, and NPPC President Scott Hays.

NPPC leaders with Ambassador Shigeo Yamada

NPPC Mourns Death of Former USDA Under Secretary, Iowa Agriculture Secretary

What happened: NPPC and pork producers are mourning the passing of Bill Northey, former U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) and Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary for 11 years. Northey was 64.

Northey served at USDA FPAC from 2018 to 2021, overseeing the new mission area’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency.

Known for his staunch support for farmers and U.S. agriculture, at the time of his death Northey was CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, representing over 1,100 businesses across the state that supply feed, seed, crop protection chemicals, grain, fertilizer, equipment, and other products.

NPPC tribute: NPPC called Northey “a steadfast champion for rural America and farmers, with a heart of service and leadership. Our deepest condolences go out to Bill Northey’s family and friends.”