Capital Update – For the Week Ending June 2, 2023

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: California Proposition 12 webinars announced, NPPC testimony on FAD border protection, trade coalition urges White House to change course on IPEF, Senate hearing explores farm labor, animal disease center opens in Kansas, and World Pork Expo. Take a deeper dive below.

California Proposition 12 Update

What happened: The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Animal Care Program announced a series of California Proposition 12 regulations and requirements webinars and released a guidance document with questions and answers related to pork sales in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Why it matters: NPPC met with CDFA on Tuesday, May 23, to work on securing a smooth transition for pork producers with minimal marketplace disruptions. Due to the need for regulatory clarity, NPPC asked CDFA to host these webinars to provide significantly more guidance for the entire supply chain.

How to join CDFA webinars:

Tuesday, June 6 at 1:00 pm CT:

  • Webinar for “end-users” – retailers, restaurants and food processors

Tuesday, June 13 at 1:00 pm CT:

  • Webinar for “distributors” – selling or distributing covered product to an end-user in California

Tuesday, June 27 at 1:00 pm CT:

  • Webinar for “pork producers” – keeping or housing breeding pigs

What’s next: NPPC will continue to work with CDFA to ensure U.S. pork producers and other stakeholders have clear guidance for compliance with California Proposition 12 standards.

NPPC Submits Testimony on Border Protection to Prevent FADs

What happened: NPPC submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade about the need for robust customs and border protection to prevent foreign animal diseases (FADs) from reaching the U.S. mainland.

With increasing threats from FADs, such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever (ASF), the pork industry and other livestock sectors are looking to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to be the first line of defense at the country’s 328 ports of entry.

Why it matters: CBP agents typically discover more than 4,600 plants, meat and animal byproducts daily that must be quarantined or destroyed. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), exotic pests and foreign animal diseases annually cost the United States about $140 billion in economic and environmental losses. While CBP agents do a tremendous job of interdicting agricultural contraband, the agency remains understaffed at many entry points, resulting in some illegal products slipping into the country and putting the U.S. agriculture industry at risk.

NPPC’s position: NPPC is urging Congress to appropriate funds for CBP to continue carrying out its mission, including hiring additional staff, above the money it receives through the user fees charged to international travelers and commercial carriers.

NPPC wants authority restored to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to collect a user fee surcharge for times of severe travel disruptions. Additionally, NPPC is asking lawmakers to include the “Beagle Brigade Act” (H.R. 1480/S. 759) in the 2023 Farm Bill, which provides specific congressional authorization and funds for the National Detector Dog Training Center in Georgia.

Coalition Urges White House to ‘Change Course’ on IPEF Talks

What happened: A coalition of business and agricultural organizations, including NPPC, expressed concerns about the content and direction of the Biden administration’s proposals for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). The White House decided not to negotiate on removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade but instead focus on addressing standards-related and other technical barriers, including sanitary and phytosanitary standards that affect agricultural goods.

In a coalition letter sent last Friday to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said: “We fail to understand the logic behind not even attempting to obtain IPEF commitments in these areas, which would help facilitate trade in sectors where U.S. companies are highly competitive but in which non-tariff barriers proliferate overseas. We strongly urge the administration to change course and use the IPEF to deliver outcomes that advance the interests of American workers, farmers and companies.”

The IPEF, which consists of Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam, is a U.S.-led initiative to forge closer ties with nations in the Asia-Pacific region. The talks are focused on supply chains; clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure; tax and anti-corruption; and trade.

Why it matters: The 14 countries in the IPEF have about 60% of the world’s population, representing 40% of global GDP and 28% of the world’s trade in goods and services. In 2022, nearly one-third of the U.S. pork industry’s exports were sent to IPEF countries despite several restrictions on U.S. pork through tariff and non-tariff barriers.

NPPC’s take: While it supports the IPEF talks, NPPC wants the Biden administration to pursue a more ambitious agreement that addresses agricultural market access by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and adopting science-based technical, sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

Farm Labor Shortage Addressed in Senate Hearing

What happened: This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on immigrant labor and farming that covered topics on wages, workers’ rights violations, undocumented immigrants, and the H-2A visa program.

Committee members were interested in H-2A visas, which allow agricultural employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring a limited number of foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary, seasonal farm jobs. Currently, that number is insufficient to meet livestock farmers’ workforce needs, who need year-round workers.

Why it matters: U.S. agriculture relies heavily on immigrant workers and faces a severe labor shortage. Shrinking rural populations, declining immigration to rural areas, and the rising median age of farmers have contributed to the lack of available workers causing negative effects throughout the food supply chain, including in the U.S. pork industry.

NPPC’s take: NPPC supports expanding the H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural laborers. It also backs reforming the visa system to address complexity, backlogs, predictability and costs. Although Congress has yet to reach a consensus on immigration reform, NPPC is pleased that lawmakers are discussing U.S. agriculture’s labor needs.

Animal Disease Center Opens in Kansas

What happened: Last week, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a biosecurity level-4 (highest) facility, was dedicated in Manhattan, Kansas. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and APHIS will share operational responsibilities. ARS will focus on research on emerging animal diseases and developing countermeasures, such as vaccines and antivirals, while APHIS will concentrate on prevention, surveillance, diagnosis and disease response.

Adjacent to Kansas State University and designed and constructed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NBAF will replace DHS’s Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, a biosecurity level-3 facility just off New York’s Long Island that is more than 68 years old.

Why it matters: NBAF research will serve as the reference laboratory for high-consequence livestock diseases and a training space for state and federal veterinarians.

NPPC’s take: NPPC advocates for operational funding to ensure needed diagnostic and research capabilities for diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever are available. NPPC supported the construction of NBAF as it will be a critical resource for protecting the U.S. livestock industry and the national food supply.

35th Annual World Pork Expo

What’s ahead: NPPC’s annual World Pork Expo is celebrating its 35th anniversary next week and will take place June 7-9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

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