Capital Update – For the Week Ending May 12, 2023

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: SCOTUS upholds California Proposition 12, NPPC testifies on trade, NPPC backs passage of the Beagle Brigade Act, House Ways and Means Committee hosts field hearing on trade, ASF detected in Indonesia, U.S. pork exports increase in March and NPPC supports Torres Small for USDA Deputy Secretary. Take a deeper dive below.

NPPC Statement on SCOTUS Opinion on California Proposition 12

What happened: On Thursday, May 11, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld California Proposition 12.

NPPC’s take: “We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s opinion. Allowing state overreach will increase prices for consumers and drive small farms out of business, leading to more consolidation. We are still evaluating the Court’s full opinion to understand all the implications. NPPC will continue to fight for our nation’s pork farmers and American families against misguided regulations.” – Scott Hays, NPPC President and Missouri pork producer.

Moving forward: As bad as this misguided law is for California consumers, we have been dealt significant policy blows before. We pick ourselves up and move forward. Ultimately the goal of every pork producer is to provide a high-quality and affordable product to our customers. At the end of the day, while this is disheartening, U.S. pork producers are known for their resiliency even in the most challenging of circumstances. NPPC continues to be committed to the producers’ freedom to operate.

What others are saying:

Several members of Congress have sent out statements expressing their displeasure with the SCOTUS decision and their support for America’s pork farmers. The highlights of those who spoke up, to name several:

Links: NPPC News and Resources and California Proposition 12 Resource Hub

NPPC Testifies on Importance of Trade to U.S. Pork Producers

What happened: NPPC President-Elect Lori Stevermer, a producer from Easton, Minnesota, testified this week on the importance of agricultural trade to the U.S. pork industry before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture and Horticulture as part of its hearing on “Stakeholder Perspectives on Agriculture Trade.”

After extolling the 2022 benefits of U.S. pork trade – nearly $7.7 billion of pork exported, more than 155,000 mostly rural jobs supported and $14.5 billion added to the country’s GDP – Stevermer told the subcommittee the pork industry’s trade successes can be largely attributed to producers’ ability to produce the safest and most nutritious and affordable pork in the world and to fair access to foreign markets negotiated through comprehensive trade agreements.

NPPC’s take: In her testimony, Stevermer outlined the U.S. pork industry’s top policy priorities:

  1. Negotiate comprehensive trade agreements that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers.
  2. Expand market access in the Asia-Pacific, including having China to remove its 25% retaliatory tariff on pork.
  3. Leverage and renew the United States’ preferential trade programs.
  4. Address the country’s labor shortage.
  5. Support efforts to keep the U.S. free from African swine fever by adequately funding federal agencies that deal with foreign animal diseases.

What’s the word: “Trade is vital to America’s pork producers, and exports continue to be a bright spot for our industry even during tough times,” said Stevermer. “Our success largely comes from our ability to produce the world’s safest, most nutritious, and affordable pork products, as well as from fair and unfettered access to foreign markets negotiated through comprehensive trade agreements.”

“It is very clear that comprehensive trade deals are why we have been, on average, the top pork exporter in the world over the past decade,” added Stevermer. “For the United States and America’s pig farmers to stay on top, we need more trade deals that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. products to allow for the free flow of goods and expand export markets.”

Lori Stevermer’s full testimony can be found here.

Beagle Brigade Act Passes the House Ag Committee

What happened: On Thursday, May 11, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to markup the Beagle Brigade Act (H.R. 1480). No amendments were offered, and the bill was favorably reported to the House.

During the markup, Chair GT Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) praised the work of the Beagle Brigade, described the bill, and urged their colleagues to support it.

Currently, the bill has 18 bipartisan cosponsors, representing a 125% increase in cosponsors over the last Congress.

Why is this important: Safe and reliable food production is critical to the national and economic security of the United States. The “Beagle Brigade” serves as the first line of defense for early detection at the nation’s ports of entry and is critical in keeping foreign animal diseases (FAD), like African swine fever, out of the United States. Located in Newnan, Georgia, the National Detector Dog Training Center is a vital program in training and deploying agricultural canine teams nationwide.

NPPC’s take: NPPC led over 50 agricultural and other organizations in supporting the Beagle Brigade Act’s reintroduction. The unanimous passage in the House Agriculture Committee is a critical step in advancing the bill to the floor. NPPC urges Congress to pass the bipartisan bill quickly and thanks the Ag Committee leadership, the bill sponsors and cosponsors for recognizing the importance of this program.

Learn more about NPPC’s advocacy efforts for science-based approaches to swine health and production, and FAD preventative and preparedness efforts here.

Committee Holds Field Hearing on U.S. Trade

What happened: The House Committee on Ways and Means this week held a field hearing on trade. The committee focused on how the United States can hold China accountable, stop China’s unfair and illicit trade practices, secure U.S. supply chains and ensure America can compete on a level playing field.

Panel Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), who pointed out that the hearing held in Staten Island, New York, was the full committee’s first outside Washington, DC, in more than 100 years, said, “Too often Washington’s trade policies have failed to protect American workers, families, farmers and small businesses, and when any competitive advantage is ceded to communist China, it means American workers lose out.”

Why it’s important: Trade is vital to the U.S. economy and to American agriculture. Last year, total U.S. trade topped $5 trillion, with agricultural trade at a record $196 billion and pork exports at nearly $7.7 billion. China imported about $154 billion of U.S. goods and services in 2022, making it the number three market for the U.S. That amount included more than $38 billion of agricultural commodities, including almost $1.4 billion of U.S. pork.

NPPC’s take: NPPC supports trade policies that allow for the free flow of goods and services. It wants comprehensive trade agreements that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. products, particularly pork, providing a mechanism for setting science-based standards and resolving trade disputes. Regarding China, NPPC is urging the Biden administration to press that country to drop its 25% retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork muscle cuts.

African Swine Fever Detected in Indonesia

What happened: African swine fever (ASF) recently was detected on Indonesia’s Riau Islands near Singapore, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). A farm on Bulan island lost about 12.5% of its more than 285,000 pigs to the swine-only disease.

In 2022, the U.S. pork industry exported more than $11 million of products to Singapore.

Why is this important: Foreign Animal Diseases such as ASF would devastate the U.S. pork industry if there were an outbreak in the United States, as other countries would close their markets to U.S. pork exports. The pork industry is dependent on exports. Last year, it shipped nearly $7.7 billion of pork to more than 100 countries, and export value equated to more than $61 for each hog marketed in 2022.

NPPC’s position: NPPC continues to urge Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help prevent and prepare for an ASF outbreak. It has asked for more funding for USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services’ Veterinary Services to hire additional staff and funds for equipment and washout facilities for the National Veterinary Stockpile. NPPC also wants additional funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for increased agricultural inspections at U.S. ports of entry and for more agricultural inspectors and detector dogs.

NPPC continues to urge Congress and USDA to help prevent and prepare for an ASF outbreak by advocating for funding to hire additional USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services’ (APHIS) Veterinary Services staff and more funding to better equip the National Veterinary Stockpile. NPPC is also looking to Congress to continue funding the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase agricultural inspections at U.S. ports of entry.

U.S. Pork Exports Increase in March

What happened: U.S. pork exports in March were 18% higher in value and 17% higher in volume over March 2022, according to data issued last week from USDA. At more than 260,000 metric tons (mt) worth $724 million, pork exports for the month were the ninth largest on record and the highest monthly totals since May 2021.

For the first quarter of the year, exports increased 15% in value to $1.96 billion and 14% in volume to 716,691 mt compared with the same period last year.

Destinations for U.S. pork: Mexico continued to be the top market for U.S. pork, taking in almost 31% more in value to nearly $196 million and 16% more in volume to 95,030 mt in March 2023 than in March 2022. China also had strong demand for pork imports as it struggles with ASF. U.S. pork exports to the country in March increased by 26% in value to $118 million and by nearly 25% in volume to 44,691 mt.

March exports to the Dominican Republic were up 88% in value to $33.6 million and 87% in volume to 13,181 mt from a year ago. The Philippines saw exports jump 42% in value to $9.6 million and 65% in volume to 5,077 mt from March 2022. Pork exports to South Korea increased 26% from a year ago to 19,054 mt, with value up 14% to $58.6 million. Like China, all three countries are dealing with ASF.

Other key markets also saw increases in March 2023 compared with last year, with exports to Australia up 74% in value to nearly $17 million and almost 75% in volume to 4,818 mt and Canada taking about 5% more in value to $86.5 million and 10% more in volume to 20,559 mt. Japan’s March imports increased by 4% in volume to 33,297 mt, but fell in value fell to $133 million, although that was less than a 1% decline.

What it means for producers: First quarter exports accounted for 23.6% of commercial pork production, and March exports were 24.4%. The value of pork and pork products averaged $63.15 per hog slaughtered in March, while first-quarter export values equated to $60.29 per hog marketed.

NPPC Supports Torres Small for USDA Deputy Secretary

What happened: This week, Xochitl Torres Small, USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development, appeared before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for a hearing on her nomination as the agency’s deputy secretary. She would take over from Jewel Bronaugh, who announced her resignation in January.

Before being confirmed as undersecretary for rural development in October 2021, Torres Small served one term in Congress (2019-2021) from New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district. She previously held positions as a field representative for Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), a clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico and a private practice attorney. She earned a law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and an international baccalaureate from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa.

Why is this important: As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s deputy, Torres Small will help fashion a 2023 Farm Bill.

NPPC’s take: NPPC, which supported Torres Small’s nomination to be Under Secretary for Rural Development, is backing her for deputy secretary. NPPC joined more than 50 other agricultural groups in a March letter to Senate agriculture committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR), expressing “strong support” for Torres Small as second-in-command at USDA. The letter expressed that Torres Small “has demonstrated a deep commitment to addressing challenges in the agricultural supply chain, fostering economic opportunities and security through rural infrastructure investments, and fighting for the needs of rural Americans.”