For the Week Ending January 26, 2018
TPP MOVES FORWARD WITHOUT U.S.
The 11 remaining countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this week announced that an agreement has been reached and will be finalized in March. President Trump withdrew from the trade agreement when he took office in January 2017. NPPC, a strong supporter of the TPP, continues to warn that the U.S. pork industry will lose market share in the Asia-Pacific if the United States does not rejoin TPP or conclude bilateral free trade agreements with countries in the region. It has urged the Trump administration to begin trade talks with Japan – the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market – and with countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.
USDA SETS PRIORITIES FOR 2018 FARM BILL
The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week unveiled its framework for the 2018 Farm Bill, outlining its support for the legislation that addresses key areas of the agricultural economy. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the priorities during a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. The report advises Congress to approve provisions providing support for crop insurance programs, conservation, trade and foreign affairs, food safety and rural development. The Farm Bill also includes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food and nutrition programs. The framework presented by the USDA emphasizes the need to ensure that the Farm Bill aligns with international trade laws and allows the U.S. agricultural industry to remain globally competitive. In addition, the report stresses the need to utilize science and technology to eradicate plant and animal diseases and to enhance USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) programs. NPPC continues to urge congressional lawmakers to include in the next Farm Bill language that establishes and funds a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank. The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September.
SUPREME COURT DECIDES ‘WOTUS’ RULE JURISDICTIONAL MATTER
In a victory for groups, including NPPC, opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, the U.S. Supreme Court this week unanimously decided that legal challenges to the regulation must be reviewed in federal district court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, had consolidated under its jurisdiction WOTUS cases filed in several district courts, including one to which NPPC was a party. The controversial Clean Water Act regulation gave the government broad control over waters, including upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters. Last summer, the Trump administration proposed a regulation to repeal the WOTUS rule, but EPA still needs to clarify the definition of waters of the United States; it has agreed to work with stakeholders on a regulation that’s workable and protects waterways. Should a future rule need to be challenged, any lawsuit would be heard at the U.S. District Court level.
FINAL SCHEDULED ROUND OF NAFTA RENEGOTIATION TALKS HELD
NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba is in Montreal this week monitoring the sixth round of renegotiation talks between the United States, Canada and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NPPC has been urging the Trump administration to stay in the 23-year-old agreement and to maintain the zero-tariff rate on pork traded under NAFTA. If the deal were terminated, the U.S. pork industry eventually would lose the Mexican market at a cost of $1.5 billion, or $12 a pig.
SENATORS APPEAL TO EPA; FARM EMISSION REPORTING REQUIRMENTS PENDING
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAs) this week asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to grant another delay in farm emissions requirements, which were set to begin on Jan 22. A court decision is pending. The EPA’s request followed a letter sent by ten democratic senators to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt emphasizing the importance of providing more time to effectively inform farms about their reporting requirements, including: Senators Baldwin, D-WI; Bennet, D-CO; Cardin, D-MD; Carper, D-DE; Coons, D-DE; Heitkamp, D-ND; Kaine, D-VA; Klobuchar, D-MN; Smith, D-MN; Van Hollen, D-MD. In April 2017, the court rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. The court late last year pushed back the reporting deadline after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – supported by a brief from NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association – asked it to delay the mandate so that the agency could have “more time to provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions and to develop a system that allows farmers to comply with their legal obligations.” More information on the reporting requirement, including how to report emissions, can be found here.
U.S. PORK INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES ATTEND ASF MEETINGS IN EUROPE
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and Director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary and Technical Issues Courtney Knupp last week joined pork producers on NPPC’s Trade Committee and its Animal Health and Food Security Committee in Denmark, Poland and Germany to explore the steps being taken to prevent or limit the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) to commercial pig production sites. Also on the trip were Barb Determan, president of the U.S. Animal Health Association and representatives with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. All three countries require traceability of animals and reporting of all animal movements. They also enforce increased biosecurity in ASF-positive zones – although Denmark is free of the disease – and focus on surveillance of wild boar and dead domestic animals that have signs consistent with ASF, zoning/regionalization of areas with positive animals and ensuring that meat from animals in positive zones is not exported outside of the domestic market. The U.S. pork industry representatives are expected to communicate their findings to their respective organizations, and conclusions also will be discussed with the working group for the Secure Pork Supply Plan, a collaboration among the pork industry, state and federal government officials and Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota.
PERDUE CLASSIFIES LIVESTOCK PRICE REPORTING, FSIS WORKERS ‘ESSENTIAL’
Although it turned out not to be needed, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue over last weekend classified as “essential” U.S. Department of Agriculture workers who produce the twice-daily Livestock Mandatory Price reports and inspectors with agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). NPPC joined other food-animal organizations on a letter urging Perdue to deem the USDA employees essential so that two programs critical to the continuity of livestock market operations would continue during a federal government shutdown. The Livestock Mandatory Reporting program, managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, is the sole source of market information on sales to packers of cattle, swine and lambs and on the subsequent sale of meat products. FSIS inspectors ensure that safe, nutritious and affordable meat and poultry are available to consumers. Congress on Monday approved a short-term funding bill to reopen the government, which made Perdue’s decision moot.
STATE PORK ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETINGS ROLL ON
Throughout January and February, many state pork associations will host their annual meetings. For more on the meetings, visit NPPC’s website here.
U.S. AG CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE DUE FEB. 5
Reminder to complete by Feb. 5 the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which was distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The Census survey can be returned by mail or can be completed online here. Completing the online survey requires a 17-digit code, which can be found on the address label on the paper questionnaire or letter you received in the mail.