For the Week Ending October 6, 2023

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: ADUFA passed in continuing resolution; anti-checkoff amendment fails in House Ag appropriations bill; NPPC asks producers to comment on swine traceability; NPPC’s Dr. Carr attends Codex; U.S. holds second round of trade talks with Kenya: USDA holds virtual sessions for ASF Action Week; Cassidy-Crawford legislation would set up Ag Trade Enforcement Task Force; NPPC staff attend Protein PACT; and applications are being accepted for Lois Britt Pork Industry Scholarships. Take a deeper dive below.

Animal Drug User Fee Act Reauthorized for 5 Years

What happened: Congress included a provision in the Continuing Resolution — to keep the government operating — it approved last Saturday that reauthorized the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). Reauthorized for five years, ADUFA gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to collect from animal health companies fees for reviewing animal drug applications, supplementing the agency’s budget for the rigorous appraisal of animal drugs.

Why it matters: ADUFA allows FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to collect user fees from the manufacturers of animal health products, which fund the agency’s review of and approval process for new animal drugs. It ensures FDA has an efficient system for authorizing new medicines and diagnostic tools that keep livestock healthy and protect the food supply.

NPPC’s take: NPPC applauded congressional lawmakers for including ADUFA reauthorization in the short-term funding bill. The measure will help ensure FDA has the resources needed to review new animal health products for safety and efficacy and bring them to market for the U.S. livestock industry.

House Rejects Amendment to End Checkoff Programs

What happened: The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted overwhelmingly against an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill that would have ended the commodity checkoff programs, the federally authorized promotion and research programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by designated boards.

There are 22 USDA research and promotion boards administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services, including pork. USDA must approve checkoff expenditures.

Reps. Tom Massie (R-KY) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who sponsored the amendment, claim the checkoff boards failed to fully disclose how revenue is spent by the programs and sought to stop USDA from operating them.

Why it matters: Checkoff programs help expand markets, increase demand, and develop new uses for commodities. According to USDA, for every $1 paid into a checkoff, as much as $18 is returned to farmers. A 2021 study by Cornell University economist Henry Kaiser found the Pork Checkoff program returned $27.57 for each $1 pork producers paid into it.

NPPC’s take: NPPC supports the federal commodity checkoff programs, including the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985. In addition to promoting U.S. pork domestically and internationally and funding research on production, processing, human nutrition, animal well-being, and environmental protection, the pork checkoff administered by the National Pork Board conducts producer and consumer education.

NPPC Asks Pig Owners to Weigh In on Updated Traceability System

What happened: U.S. pork producers tasked NPPC with leading an effort to update the existing swine industry traceability system to better track pig movements, which would be vital in case of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak in this country. About 1 million pigs are in transit daily.

In 2006, producers voluntarily adopted animal traceability standards to track market hog movements, with the goal of controlling the spread of FADs such as African swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease, and classical swine fever (hog cholera). However, tens of thousands of animals are not covered by that system.

Changes to the existing system include:

  • Adding breeding stock — sows and boars — cull animals, and show pigs, whose movements currently are difficult to track, giving each a unique ID number.
  • Registering premises for all producers, cull and breeding operations, and show pig farms.
  • Reporting movement for all pigs to a centralized database that is available to animal health officials.

Why it matters: International markets would close immediately if an FAD were discovered in the United States. Strengthening live-swine traceability will better assure animal health officials have access to comprehensive movement data, show trading partners the United States knows where disease-free animals are, and allow U.S. pork exports, which last year were nearly $7.7 billion, to resume.

NPPC’s position: NPPC is asking swine producers, veterinarians, cull swine and breeding operators, and show pig enthusiasts to comment on draft standards by Oct. 27. Their input will be used to update the standards, which will be presented for approval to pork industry delegates at the 2024 National Pork Industry Forum in March.

NPPC’s Dr. Carr Attends Codex Commission Committee Meeting

What happened: Dr. Trachelle Carr, NPPC’s International Technical Services Specialist, this week attended the 33rd Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP) in Bordeaux, France. The CCGP serves as the foundation for the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the U.N.’s international food-safety standard-setting body.

Why it matters: The CCGP’s primary role is to deal with procedural provisions, text, and principles that are incorporated into the Codex procedural manual. During the committee’s 33rd session, topics discussed included the participation of international non-governmental organizations in Codex food safety standard setting and amendments to the procedural manual to address and update older provisions and text. Suggested changes will be moved forward during the November 2023 Codex commission meeting. NPPC’s longstanding involvement in Codex discussions serves to protect U.S. pork producers.

NPPC’s take: NPPC supports the work of the Codex commission, which, through its guidelines and standards on protecting consumer health, helps ensure food being traded is safe for consumers.

33rd Codex Committee on General Principles

33rd Codex Committee on General Principles in Bordeaux, France

U.S. Holds Second Round of Trade Talks With Kenya

What happened: The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) this week in Washington, DC, held a second round of negotiations with Kenya under the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). The talks focused on agriculture, anti-corruption, inclusivity, and domestic regulation of services. The first round was held in April in Nairobi, Kenya. (Read a summary of the text from that round here.) The initiative also covers digital trade, environment and climate action, good regulatory practices, standards collaboration, and trade facilitation.

The initiative’s goal is to “increase investment; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefit workers, consumers and businesses; and support African regional economic integration.”

Why it matters: With a population of about 50 million, an expanding middle class, and relatively strong tourism-driven demand from its hotel, restaurant, and institutional food service sectors, Kenya has the potential to be a significant export market for U.S. pork products. Currently, though, it has tariff and non-tariff barriers that limit U.S. pork imports.

NPPC’s position: NPPC supports the talks between the United States and Kenya and hopes negotiations will further open the African nation’s market to U.S. pork. In comments submitted to USTR last year following the announcement of the STIP, NPPC urged U.S. trade negotiators to push Kenya to eliminate its unjustified restrictions on U.S. pork imports. Those include onerous testing and inspection requirements, non-science-based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, and failure to recognize the equivalence of U.S. pork production practices and the U.S. food safety inspection and approval system for pork slaughter, processing, and storage plants.

USDA Hosts Virtual Events for African Swine Fever Action Week

What happened: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) this week hosted virtual events to present information on preparing for and preventing African swine fever (ASF).

This is the third year APHIS has held its “ASF Action Week,” following the mid-2021 detection of the pig-only disease in the Western Hemisphere — in the Dominican Republic and Haiti — for the first time in 40 years. The events, on the APHIS Protect Our Pigs website and on social media, ran Oct. 2-6.

Why it matters: ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of hogs, with a nearly 100% mortality rate. It does not affect people and is not a food safety risk. An outbreak in the United States would prompt U.S. trading partners to immediately close their markets to U.S. pork.

NPPC’s take: Ever since ASF began spreading through Asia in 2018, NPPC has been urging Congress and USDA to prepare for the disease, asking for, among other things, funds for additional U.S. agricultural inspectors, more staff for USDA’s Veterinary Services, funds for APHIS’s Veterinary Stockpile for equipment to euthanize hogs and additional washout facilities for trucks that transport livestock. NPPC has been educating U.S. pork producers about precautions to protect the U.S. swine herd from ASF. NPPC also joined the conversation on social media, calling for producers to comment on traceability standards.

Legislation Would Set Up Ag Trade Enforcement Task Force

What happened: Bills recently were offered in the U.S. Senate and House to establish a trade enforcement task force to tackle international agricultural issues and disputes. The “Prioritizing Offensive Agricultural Disputes and Enforcement Act” was introduced in the upper chamber by Finance Committee member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and in the lower chamber by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR).

The task force, which would include officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other relevant federal agencies, would identify agricultural trade barriers and develop strategies for enforcing international agreements and rules that can eliminate or ease those barriers. It would be required to make quarterly reports to Congress and give briefings to lawmakers.

For its first action, the legislation explicitly asks the task force to “fil[e] a request for consultations” with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over India’s price supports for certain agricultural products. In April, the United States and several other WTO member countries claimed India exceeded its support limits for rice and wheat over the past several years. The bills’ sponsors also have mentioned China as one of the initial targets of the task force.

Why it matters: U.S. agricultural exports are vital to America’s farmers and the overall U.S. economy, supporting about 1 million U.S. jobs. For U.S. pork producers, pork exports contribute significantly to their bottom line. Last year, producers exported nearly $7.7 billion of product to more than 100 foreign destinations.

NPPC’s take: U.S. pork producers over the past 10 years have been, on average, the No. 1 exporter of high-quality, affordable pork, a position they garnered despite tariff and non-tariff barriers in many countries. NPPC supports the legislation and efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce such impediments to U.S. pork exports through comprehensive trade agreements and/or enforcement of international trade rules.

NPPC’s Bailey, Johnson at Protein PACT Summit

What happened: NPPC’s Senior Policy and Compliance Adviser Andrew Bailey and Director of Food Policy Dr. Ashely Johnson this week attended the North American Meat Institute’s Protein PACT — People, Animals, and Climate of Tomorrow — Summit.

The annual event brings meat industry leaders together to discuss agriculture’s progress on public commitments in each of five focus areas: animal health and welfare, environment, food safety, health and wellness, and labor and human rights.

Johnson and Bailey participated in committee meetings on international affairs and scientific affairs and food safety inspection.

Why it matters: The Protein PACT Summit gives animal agriculture organizations an opportunity to discuss customer demands, and what they mean for the meat industry, as well as innovations that can address customers’ protein needs and the industry’s environmental sustainability goals.

NPPC’s take: NPPC is a member of the Protein PACT and supports efforts to make agriculture more sustainable.

Protein PACT Summit keynote roundtable

Protein PACT Summit keynote roundtable

Applications Being Accepted for Lois Britt Pork Industry Scholarships

What happened: NPPC now is accepting applications for the 2024 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship. Ten $2,500 scholarships are awarded annually to students who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry, with aspirations of becoming industry leaders. The CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation, which NPPC manages and administers, sponsor the scholarships.

Undergraduate students enrolled in a two-year swine program or four-year college of agriculture are welcome to apply. Applicants must provide a brief letter indicating what role they see themselves playing in the pork industry after graduation and submit an essay describing a current or future industry issue and proposed solutions. Applicants also need two letters of reference from current or former professors or industry professionals. Winners will be announced at the National Pork Industry Forum in Chicago on March 5-7, 2024.

Why it matters: The scholarship program honors NPPC’s former board director Lois Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture. Britt spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, followed by 15 years with Murphy-Brown LLC — Smithfield Foods’ hog production company — doing public and government relations. A few of her many achievements include induction into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame and the N.C. Pork Council Hall of Fame, as well as receiving the North Carolina 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award.

About the scholarships: The scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by the CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CME lean hog futures, with four scholarships awarded. In 2006, the scholarship was renamed to honor the passing of Britt. In 2015, the 50th anniversary of lean hog futures, the number of scholarships increased from four to five, and in 2017, with the National Pork Industry Foundation becoming a sponsor of the program, 10 scholarships were awarded. For more information on and to apply for the scholarship, click here. Applications are due Jan. 2, 2024.