Capital Update – For the Week Ending October 13, 2023

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: NPPC asks to intervene in CAFO rule court case; NPPC attends World Meat Congress; NPPC comments on Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Program; NPPC Past President Terry Wolters speaks at Global Protein Summit; NPPC’s Holly Cook to present pork industry economic update; U.S./U.K. seek ‘non-traditional’ trade deal; and applications for the 2024 Neil Dierks Scholarship are open. Take a deeper dive below.

NPPC Asks to Intervene in CAFO Rule Court Case  

What happened: NPPC has teamed up with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and the United Egg Producers (UEP) requesting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to allow their intervention in a lawsuit filed by environmental and animal rights extremists against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

In August, led by Food & Water Watch, a large group of environmental and animal rights extremist organizations filed suit after EPA denied their 2017 petition, which sought to substantially revise EPA’s longstanding CAFO rules. EPA’s CAFO Rules set strict zero-discharge limitations for manure from livestock farms and impose significant penalties for any violation. When first proposed by EPA, the rules included a requirement that all CAFOs apply for and receive a permit from EPA. NPPC successfully challenged those provisions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declaring the provision to be illegal in in 2010.

The 2017 petition, along with a similar 2021 petition led by Earthjustice and HSUS, demanded that EPA reverse these court orders and once again require livestock farms to seek CWA permits. After EPA denied both petitions, in large part because they requested EPA to undertake actions that are illegal, the extremists filed their lawsuit.

Why it matters: For nearly 20 years, livestock producers have been regulated under EPA’s CAFO Rules, which enforce a strict “zero-discharge” standard for managing manure from livestock operations. Violations of the rule carry fines of up to $56,460 per day, per violation. Adding unnecessary (and illegal) paperwork and other requirements onto the existing rules would place heavy burdens on livestock producers and provide no water quality benefit.

NPPC’s take: In their motion to intervene in the court case, NPPC, AFBF, U.S. Poultry, and UEP pointed out that the environmental and animal rights extremist groups – in their 2017 petition and through the current legal challenge – “are seeking to compel EPA to promulgate several new regulatory requirements, all of which would considerably burden” the members of the agricultural organizations and which have previously been found to be illegal.

NPPC Officers, Staff Attend World Meat Congress

What happened: NPPC President Scott Hays, President-elect Lori Stevermer, Vice President of International Affairs Maria C. Zieba, and International Technical Services Specialist Dr. Trachelle Carr attended the World Meat Congress (WMC), hosted by the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) in Maastricht, Netherlands. The focus of this year’s congress was meeting the expectations of society and consumers for high-quality and nutritious food.

The NPPC officers and staff serve on the IMS committees on sustainable meat, animal care, economics, and human nutrition and health. At this Congress, Zieba was voted to serve on IMS’ board of directors.

Why it matters: Every two years, specialists, leaders, and representatives from the meat value chain from around the globe gather to share different perspectives, challenges, and opportunities related to meat production. Zieba’s addition to the IMS board gives the U.S. pork industry a stronger global voice to help shape international policy and regulatory standards impacting U.S. pork exports.

2023 World Meat Congress

Left to right: NPPC International Technical Services Specialist Dr. Trachelle Carr, President-elect Lori Stevermer, President Scott Hays, and Vice President of International Affairs Maria C. Zieba.

NPPC Comments on Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Program

What happened: NPPC expressed its support for raising user fees within the Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection (AQI) program in comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The AQI program funds the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural inspectors who are stationed at U.S. ports of entry.

User fees for the program were last updated in 2015 and are paid by passenger and cargo transporters, based on cost data from fiscal years 2010 through 2012. Due to changes in international travel and shipping, such as larger ships and increased cargo volume, the current fees no longer generate enough revenue to cover the costs of the AQI program.

Why it matters: The $1 trillion U.S. agriculture sector is a crucial component of the American economy. CBP inspectors play a critical role in checking cargo and passenger baggage entering the country for plant pests and potential sources of animal diseases that could affect U.S. agriculture, trade, and commerce. (APHIS administers the program.)

If foreign animal diseases, such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), reach U.S. shores, they would have devastating effects on America’s livestock producers. With massive production disruptions and hindered exports, an outbreak of FMD could cause nearly $240 billion in economic damage across the agricultural sector.

NPPC’s take: NPPC is a staunch supporter of the AQI program and has actively worked to strengthen it. In 2020, the organization played a leading role in fighting for additional funding to pass the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act, which authorized the CBP to hire an additional 720 agricultural inspectors.

In its comments to APHIS, NPPC said, “Increased user fees can provide the necessary funding to strengthen [AQI] programs, enhance inspections, and implement preventative measures to safeguard agricultural production.”

NPPC Past President Terry Wolters Speaks at Global Protein Summit

What happened: NPPC past president and Minnesota pork producer Terry Wolters on Wednesday presented an update on California’s Proposition 12 at Urner Barry’s Global Protein Summit in Chicago. Wolters’ presentation set the facts straight on Proposition 12 implementation and highlighted NPPC’s stance on the issue.

The Summit serves as an education conference for the poultry, pork, beef, and seafood sectors and provides insight into protein market demand, global issues affecting the market, and tools to prepare for the next fiscal year.

Why it matters: Wolters’ in-depth explanation of Proposition 12 in front of a global audience provided a pork producer’s first-hand account of its damaging and widespread implications. The presentation was well-attended with many questions from Summit participants.

NPPC’s take: Proposition 12 is not based on science and fails to consider all aspects of animal welfare. It will cause market volatility with fluctuating pork prices and product availability for consumers in and outside California, forcing consolidation within the livestock sector and the loss of family farms. NPPC supports a federal solution to the sweeping issues posed by the Supreme Court’s decision and Proposition 12.

NPPC’s Cook to Present Pork Industry Economic Update

What: NPPC Economist Holly Cook will present a pork industry economic update and outlook through an Iowa Farm Bureau webinar next Wednesday. Cook will address current issues affecting the hog market, including supply and demand conditions, California Proposition 12, and more.

When: The “Fall 2023 U.S. Pork Industry Update and Outlook with the National Pork Producers Council Webinar” will begin at 1 p.m. Central time, Oct. 18. To register for the webinar, click here.

U.S. and U.K. Begin Talks on ‘Non-Traditional’ Trade Deal

What happened: The United States and the United Kingdom have opened negotiations on a trade arrangement that covers, among other topics, agriculture, labor rights, the environment, supply chains, and digital trade. Notably, it excludes market access, which usually is achieved by lowering or eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers.

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has been critical of such non-traditional deals, arguing that they won’t deliver binding trade commitments from countries. He recently said the United States should not be in trade talks unless a final deal can demonstrate clear benefits, such as “lowering barriers to exports, leveling the playing field for American workers, and providing stable markets for U.S. farmers.”

Why it matters: The U.K. has a population of 67 million and shared cultural and culinary tastes with the United States. While the U.K. imported $2.3 billion of pork in 2022 — making it one of the world’s top pork importers — because of its tariff and non-tariff barriers, the U.K. took just $3.8 million of U.S. pork.

NPPC’s take: While it supports efforts to foster closer economic ties between the United States and the United Kingdom, NPPC has urged the Biden administration to pursue a comprehensive trade agreement that addresses the U.K.’s impediments to U.S. pork exports.

In June, NPPC joined a coalition of food and agriculture organizations in urging congressional lawmakers to approve legislation granting the president authority to negotiate, in consultation with Congress, a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and the U.K.

Dierks Education Scholarship Applications Being Accepted

What: Applications are open for the 2024 Neil Dierks Scholarship. This scholarship, valued at $5,000, is named after NPPC’s former CEO, who served the organization for 31 years, including 20 as its leader. It is awarded to a student pursuing a graduate degree related to the pork industry from a land grant university.

About the program: The Neil Dierks Scholarship is sponsored by the National Pork Industry Foundation, which is managed and administered by NPPC.

To qualify, applicants must be current graduate students in a swine program or accepted into such a graduate program. They are also required to submit an essay on at least one issue confronting the pork industry and how they would address it.  Additionally, applicants must write a brief letter outlining their envisioned role they see themselves playing in the pork industry and provide two letters of reference from current or former professors or industry professionals.

All entries must be sent by Dec. 31, 2023. Further information about the scholarship, including application details and how to submit a completed application, can be found here.

Traceability Is Important to U.S. Trading Partners

Control of foreign animal diseases is essential to U.S. pork exports, and traceability supports an effective response to track pigs should an outbreak occur. NPPC is asking swine producers, veterinarians, cull swine and breeding operators, and show pig enthusiasts to comment on updated swine traceability standards by Oct. 27, 2023, by visiting