Capital Update – For the Week Ending May 24, 2024

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: House Agriculture Committee approves 2024 Farm Bill with 100% of NPPC priorities; Ag groups support congressional fix to Proposition 12; USTR urged to press South Africa to lift pork import restrictions; NPPC’s Zieba participates in WITA panel on 301 tariffs; World Pork Expo set for June 5-6; and Capital Update on hiatus next week. Take a deeper dive below.

House Agriculture Committee Approves 2024 Farm Bill with 100% of NPPC Priorities

What happened: The U.S. House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the 2024 Farm Bill, with several provisions supported by NPPC, including a legislative fix to California’s Proposition 12. The panel voted 33-21 to send the bill to the House floor.

The Prop. 12 provision would preempt states from imposing their own farm production standards on livestock raised outside their borders. Prop. 12 bans the sale in California of pork from hogs born to sows raised anywhere in housing that does not meet the state’s arbitrary standards.

Among the other provisions backed by the U.S. pork industry are ones that:

  • Double the funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, which help promote U.S. exports.
  • Provide $233 million for each fiscal year through fiscal 2009 for resources to protect the nation’s food supply from foreign animal diseases. That includes funds for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank.
  • Codify USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, which trains canines used at U.S. ports of entry to detect agricultural contraband.
  • Reauthorize and increase funding for the federal Feral Swine Eradication Program.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry is expected to consider its Farm Bill in the coming weeks.

NPPC’s take: NPPC’s support for the farm bill was underscored in an op-ed published in RealClearPolicy, where Bryan Humphreys emphasized its pivotal role in supporting American farming, food affordability, and fostering economic strength. The bipartisan nature of this important legislation was unmistakable during last night’s passage, prompting NPPC to extend gratitude to all members of the House Agriculture Committee who supported the bill, which included Congressmen Don Davis (D-NC), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Eric Sorenson (D-IL), and Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo (D-CO).

Why it matters: The five-year farm bill sets farm, conservation, forestry, and nutrition policy and authorizes various agricultural programs, including ones related to foreign animal disease preparation and prevention and export promotion.

Broad Coalition Rallies Behind Congressional Fix for California Proposition 12

What happened: This week a broad coalition of interests voiced support for a Congressional fix to the problematic issues of California Prop. 12 as the House Agriculture Committee considered their 2024 Farm Bill.

NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation led a large coalition of agricultural stakeholders in support of a California’s Proposition 12 provision that preempts states from imposing their own production standards on livestock raised outside their borders.

Nearly 1,000 national and state agricultural organizations, individual farms, and state and local farm bureaus signed a letter to Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA), highlighting the damaging implications of Prop. 12. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians also sent letters of support.

The coalition argued that Prop. 12 would create a patchwork of state laws, harming small- and medium-sized farms and forcing consolidation throughout agriculture. It could also prompt other countries to impose similar non-science-based regional restrictions on U.S. exports or lead them to take retaliatory action against U.S. agricultural products.

The groups emphasized that the House’s farm bill provision protects producers’ freedom to farm while still allowing states to enact laws that regulate production practices within their borders.

Additionally, the Food Equity Alliance — a coalition of California grocery stores, restaurants, retailers, business organizations, food processors, and food equity advocates — published an op-ed by the chairman of the Latin Business Association. The article highlighted the adverse effects of Proposition 12 on California consumers, who are facing significantly higher pork prices. Citing a recent study from the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics at the University of California, the chairman noted a 16% increase in the cost of bacon, a 17% rise in the price of pork ribs, and a staggering 41% hike in the price of pork loin.

With bipartisan support, the Prop. 12 provision was ultimately approved by the House Agriculture Committee this week.

NPPC’s take: NPPC, which has fought against Prop. 12 for the past five years, has worked with agriculture and consumer stakeholders, as well as with members of Congress on a solution to the problems created by the California law.

Why it matters: Pork producers across the country must comply with Prop. 12 or forgo selling into the California market of 40 million people, who consume nearly 15% of all pork sold domestically. Most producers, particularly smaller ones, cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would cost to retrofit existing or build new housing that complies with Prop. 12. The negative effects of Prop. 12 would be compounded if other states were to adopt similar restrictive laws and regulations.

USTR Urged to Press South Africa to Lift Pork Import Restrictions

What happened: In a letter circulated by NPPC membership as a priority during our Spring Legislative Action Conference, members of Congress urged the Biden administration to pressure South Africa to live up to its obligations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export goods to the United States duty-free but requires beneficiaries of the trade program to provide “reasonable and equitable treatment” for U.S. imports.

South Africa has several unwarranted, non-scientific provisions that limit imports of pork from the United States. The country bans pork offal and restricts pork because of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), for example, even though there is no documented scientific case of PRRS being transmitted to domestic livestock through imported pork. In 2023, South Africa imported just 313 metric tons of U.S. pork, representing less than 1.3% of its pork imports.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), 29 members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai to raise the import restrictions during discussions with the South African government and consider them as USTR conducts its annual review of the AGOA program.

NPPC’s take: NPPC supports the renewal of AGOA, which is set to expire next year, but wants the Biden administration to press beneficiary countries to provide “reasonable and equitable treatment” for U.S. imports, a program requirement. NPPC previously asked USTR to remove South Africa from AGOA, pointing out that the country is reaping the program benefits but providing “significantly limited” market access for U.S. pork.

Why it matters: AGOA’s objectives are to expand U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, stimulate economic growth in the region, and facilitate African nations’ integration into the global economy. In many AGOA countries, pork is an important source of protein, making them potentially significant markets for U.S. pork.

NPPC’s Zieba Participates in WITA Panel on 301 Tariffs

What happened: NPPC Vice President of Government Affairs Maria C. Zieba recently participated in a “pop-up briefing” on the Biden administration’s review of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods. The Trump administration imposed the tariffs in 2018 in response to China’s forced transfers of U.S. technology and intellectual property.

The briefing was hosted by the Washington International Trade Association (WITA), the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum in the nation’s capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade and economic issues. Zieba, who serves on the WITA board of directors, joined other association executives in discussing the 301 review and how the tariffs affected sectors of the U.S. economy and trade relations between the United States and China.

Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 allows the president to take action, including imposing tariffs, in response to a foreign government’s policies or practices that violate an international trade agreement or are unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory and that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. The 301 sanctions must be reviewed after four years to determine whether they should remain in place.

The Biden administration determined the tariffs on Chinese goods should continue and that some duties should be increased, and new tariffs should be levied on certain products. The review also found the tariffs have had “small negative effects” on the U.S. economy — mostly from retaliatory tariffs China placed on U.S. goods, including pork.

Why it matters: WITA, whose members include trade leaders in business, law, academia, non-governmental organizations, embassies, and the U.S. government, educates policymakers and the public about pressing international trade and economic policy issues. It regularly holds events and meetings on such topics.

Maria C. Zieba on call with WITA regarding China 301 tariffs

NPPC’s Zieba (top row, second from left) participates in WITA’ panel on Section 301 tariffs.

World Pork Expo Set for June 5-6

What is happening: NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo will take place June 5-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. More than 20,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, which showcases innovations, new products, and offers training and educational programs, as well as lots of pork.

Click here for more information, tickets, and media registration for the world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition.

Capital Update on Hiatus Next Week

In honor of Memorial Day and congressional recess, Capital Update will not be published next week.