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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 16, 2019 – The U.S. pork industry faces numerous challenges both at home and abroad that, if not addressed, will pose significant harm to our farms, rural communities and ultimately consumers, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., testified this morning before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

“One of the most damaging threats to the U.S. pork industry has been the punitive, retaliatory trade tariffs that China and other countries have imposed,” Herring told the subcommittee.

China is the largest consumer and importer of pork in the world, but U.S. hog farmers have been sidelined, Herring told the subcommittee, due to China’s 62% tariff on American pork that have cost domestic producers $1 billion on an annualized basis. “There is an unprecedented sales opportunity for U.S. pork producers in China as that country continues to battle the spread of African swine fever and experiences a major reduction in domestic production,” he said. “Instead, this trade opportunity is fueling jobs, profits and rural development for our international competitors. We seek an end to the trade dispute with China and the restoration of more favorable access to the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.”

Herring also called for expeditated negotiation of a trade agreement with Japan, where U.S. pork producers are losing market share due to new trade agreements Japan has formed with the European Union and TPP-11 nations.

In addition to trade issues, U.S. pork producers are working to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks, Herring explained to the subcommittee. “We can all agree that we need to keep this deadly swine-only disease out of the USA,” he said. To that end, NPPC has been advocating for strengthened biosecurity at our borders and is requesting appropriations funding for 600 additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Inspectors at our borders.

In his testimony, Herring also highlighted several other priorities for U.S. pork producers, including:

  • Visa reform to address a serious labor shortage that could lead to farms and packing plants closing operations. NPPC supports visa system reform that provides agricultural employers with sustained access to year-round labor.
  • Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill as intended by Congress, including development of a Foot-and-Mouth-Disease vaccine bank needed to quickly contain and eradicate an outbreak.
  • The right regulatory framework for gene-edited livestock, an innovation that promises to strengthen U.S. pork’s competitive position globally. Through its “Keep America First in Agriculture” campaign, NPPC is aggressively working to establish oversight within the U.S. Department of Agriculture where it belongs, not with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has claimed jurisdiction.

“Addressing these challenges will make U.S. hog farmers even more competitive, expand production, fuel job growth and contribute to rural communities across the country,” Herring said.

A full copy of Herring’s prepared remarks is available here.

# # #

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org

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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2019 – Today, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) launched “Keep America First in Agriculture,” a new campaign to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock. 

Gene editing technology, which introduces useful genetic variation into food animal breeding programs, promises significant animal health benefits, including a natural immunity to disease and a reduction in the need for antibiotic use. 

“Gene editing is a huge step forward for America’s farmers, as it offers a powerful new way to combat animal disease,” said Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC’s director of Science & Technology. “With gene editing, livestock breeders can knock out specific genes that make animals vulnerable to viral infections. Healthier animals benefit both farmers and consumers,” he said. 

While countries like Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is running the risk of falling far behind as a result of a regulatory seize by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and nearly six percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Additionally, the FDA’s regulation inaccurately classifies livestock as drugs and farms as drug-manufacturing facilities, creating significant challenges for the international trade in animals and animal products. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only agency prepared to effectively regulate this new technology. It already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which can easily be adopted for livestock. The USDA also has the understanding and history of working directly with livestock and agriculture, unlike the FDA, which regulates packaged food, drugs and medical devices. 

“Allowing the FDA to regulate gene editing could drive elite animal breeding out of the U.S., long the international leader, and place U.S. producers at a potentially catastrophic competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors,” said Dr. Bradley Wolter, a leading pork producer and President of The Maschhoffs, a company that produces over 4 million market hogs per year. “International competitors that commercialize this technology will gain as much as a 15 percent production efficiency advantage over U.S. pork. It’s critical that America remains the global leader in agricultural innovation and gives regulatory oversight to the USDA, the agency that is most equipped to do so.”

NPPC began its “Keep America First in Agriculture” campaign by hosting a media teleconference with leading researchers, veterinarians, producers and industry experts, including Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Biotechnology and Genomics Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis; Dr. Kovich; Andrew Bailey, NPPC Lead Counsel for Science and Technology; and Dr. Wolter. For the audio from this teleconference, click here.

To learn more about “Keep America First in Agriculture,” visit www.nppc.org/kafa and to learn more about gene editing, read NPPC’s latest “Meat of the Matter” by Dr. Kovich here

# # #

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

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MEXICO RATIFIES USMCA

On Wednesday, Mexico’s Senate voted to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “USMCA passes! Mexico goes first with clear signal that our economy is open,” Jesús Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter. Mexico’s Senate passed it in a 114-4 vote, becoming the first of the three countries to ratify the agreement. The Trump administration is hopeful to vote on USMCA ratification before the August recess. NPPC continues to urge ratification of USMCA, preserving zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term.

WHITE HOUSE HOPEFUL USMCA VOTE BEFORE AUGUST RECESS

Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration is making progress resolving issues with lawmakers on a proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) deal. “My hope is that over the next couple of weeks, we can make substantial progress. I believe we’re on track,” he said. The administration is pushing Congress to approve USMCA before the August recess. Meantime, a House working group met this week to discuss possible changes to the agreement. NPPC will closely monitor congressional votes on USMCA and continues to urge the administration to complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China, where U.S. pork has a historic opportunity to dramatically expand exports given the countries struggle with African swine fever. 

USDA OFFERING $75 MILLION FOR PILOT PROJECT TO CONTROL FERAL SWINE

On Thursday, USDA announced it was offering $75 million in funding for the eradication and control of feral swine through the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. NPPC advocated for program funding during the development of the 2018 Farm Bill. The pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The 2018 Farm Bill included this new pilot program to help address the threat that feral swine pose to agriculture, ecosystems and human and animal health. In a statement, NPPC President David Herring thanked USDA for implementing this program. “Wild pigs are difficult to control and when in close proximity to domestic production, they are almost impossible to control. Most seriously, we are concerned about the spread of feral swine carrying diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. While outbreaks of ASF continue throughout China and other parts of Asia, there are no reported cases in the United States. With no vaccination available, prevention is our only defense and that’s why this program is so vitally important,” he added. Read NPPC’s full release here

TRUMP, XI TO MEET NEXT WEEK IN JAPAN

President Trump plans for an extended meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan next week. “I have a very good relationship with President Xi. We’ll see what happens. I think we have a chance. China wants a deal. They don’t like the tariffs,” Trump said to reporters on Tuesday. NPPC continues to advocate for the trade dispute with China to be resolved. China is the largest producer, consumer and importer of pork in the world. However, due to a combined 62% retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork, producers have lost $8 per hog or $1 billion on an annualized industry-wide basis. 

PORK GROUPS HIGHLIGHT ASF PREVENTION EFFORTS

In a joint letter, NPPC, the North American Meat Institute, National Pork Board, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center provided pork processors with information they can provide to their producer partners to prevent African swine fever (ASF), which affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. Guidance includes obtaining a premises identification number, which will help track the animals’ locations, establishing enhanced biosecurity measures and training farm personnel. Read the joint letter here

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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2019 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it was offering $75 million in funding—as part of the 2018 Farm Bill– for the eradication and control of feral swine through the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina, issued the following statement:

“We thank USDA for implementing this important Farm Bill program to reduce feral swine populations. Wild pigs are difficult to control and when in close proximity to domestic production, they are almost impossible to control. Most seriously, we are concerned about the spread of feral swine carrying diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. While outbreaks of ASF continue throughout China and other parts of Asia, there are no reported cases in the United States. With no vaccination available, prevention is our only defense and that’s why this program is so vitally important.”

This pilot program was one of NPPC’s main priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill. According to USDA, there are an estimated five million feral swine in at least 39 states; the cost of controlling them and the amount of damage they do is about $1.5 billion annually.

NPPC continues to advocate for implementation of other Farm Bill provisions, including carrying out Congress’ intent to acquire sufficient amounts of Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccines.

# # #

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

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NPPC HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF GLOBAL TRADE AT NATIONAL PRESS CLUB EVENT

On Tuesday, NPPC Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano spoke at a Global Business Dialogue event at the National Press Club, outlining how expanding U.S. export opportunities is vital to the success of U.S. pork producers. However, trade disputes are hampering growth and causing severe financial harm. “Mostly because of free trade agreements, the United States is the leading global exporter of pork. As a result, U.S. pork is an attractive candidate for trade retaliation. America’s hog farmers – and many other sectors of U.S. agriculture – have been at the tip of the trade retaliation spear for more than a year,” he said. While Mexico’s 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork was recently lifted, America’s producers still face a stifling 62 percent tariff into China. There are enormous trade opportunities with China, especially to help offset reduced domestic production due to African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease with no vaccine treatment that poses no human health or food safety risks, but that is almost always fatal for hogs. “But for the retaliatory duties, the United States would be in a perfect position to take advantage of this massive import surge in the world’s largest pork-consuming nation and single handedly put a huge dent in the U.S. trade imbalance with China,” he said. “China needs reliable suppliers of pork now, and likely, well into the future. The question U.S. hog farmers are asking: ‘Will we get the main course, or will we get the crumbs off the table?’” he added. To read NPPC’s full release on Giordano’s remarks, click here

TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STREAMLINE REGULATIONS FOR AGRICULTURE BIOTECHNOLOGY

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) to streamline regulations for agriculture biotechnology, based on recommendations by the administration’s Rural Development Taskforce. The EO provides a framework to support leadership in emerging technologies such as gene editing for livestock, an innovation that promises to eliminate costly diseases that cause animal suffering, lower the need to use antibiotics and to further reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. The EO directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate on common sense regulations and to develop awareness and education programs to gain acceptance of new technologies by consumers and global trading partners. “The United States is falling behind countries such as Canada, Brazil and China that have established regulatory frameworks conducive to investment in the development of gene editing,” said NPPC President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “We are hopeful that this executive order breaks the FDA’s current grip on gene editing so a regulatory framework can be established at the USDA to ensure that American farmers – not our competitors in foreign markets – realize its vast potential.” NPPC will launch a new campaign, Keep America First in Agriculture, later this month to broaden awareness and understanding of gene editing’s promise for livestock agriculture. Read NPPC’s full press release here.

HOUSE AMENDMENT APPROVED REFORMING VISA EFFORT TO ALLOW YEAR-ROUND AG WORKERS 

By voice vote on Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment by Rep. Henry Cueller (D-Texas) to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would reform the H-2A visa program to include year-round agricultural workers. NPPC has been a strong supporter of these reform efforts. America’s pig farmers and plant operators need a reliable workforce in order to continue providing the highest standards of animal care, and a steady, affordable, safe supply of pork for American consumers. Currently the industry is suffering from a serious labor shortage that must be addressed through visa system reform. 

MEXICAN TRADE RELATIONS HIGHLIGHTED DURING DC EVENT

NPPC Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba spoke at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, discussing trade relations with Mexico. The Mexican market represented over 30% of total U.S. pork exports last year. In her remarks, Zieba talked about the importance of the Mexican market to U.S. pork producers, the effects of the 20% retaliatory tariffs that Mexico recently lifted, and the need to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and move forward in negotiating agreements with other countries, including Japan. Meantime, NPPC joined nearly 1,000 food and agriculture organizations that sent a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday, urging for quick ratification of USMCA. “USMCA will benefit the U.S. agriculture and food industry while providing consumers a more abundant supply of high-quality, safe food at affordable prices,” the letter noted. U.S. pork exports totaled $6.4 billion last year; 40% of those exports went to Mexico and Canada. NPPC continues to urge ratification of USMCA. 

HOUSE AG HEARING HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF AG EXPORTS

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing Tuesday on the state of U.S agricultural products in international markets. During the hearing, Ted McKinney, USDA’s undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture, and Gregg Doud, chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, testified that the administration’s top legislative priority is passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs in the pork sector. During the hearing, Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) asked if USTR could help Taiwan purchase pork products. In response, Doud said the agency is working with Taiwan on the issue and are holding meetings this week. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) asked about the impact of African swine fever in China and in response, McKinney said the U.S. is looking at extensive defensive measures to protect against the disease, while simultaneously providing pork to China. Meantime, in his remarks, McKinney noted that the administration’s second tranche of trade relief in response to the U.S. trade dispute with China is under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The $16 billion trade relief package includes direct payments to qualifying pork producers, pork surplus purchases for the benefit of low-income families and others in need, and additional funding to develop new export opportunities. The amount of farmer payments and commodity purchases will be announced at a later date.

COMMENTS FILED ON GROUNDWATER REGULATION

NPPC, together with Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association and other members of the Ag Nutrient Policy Council, recently submitted comments to EPA on the regulation of groundwater. Specifically, the comments were on EPA’s Interpretive Statement addressing whether the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program applies to releases of pollutants from point sources to groundwater. “We strongly support EPA’s conclusion that ‘the Act is best read as excluding all releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater from NPDES program coverage and liability under Section 301 of the CWA, regardless of a hydrologic connection between the groundwater and a jurisdictional surface water,’” according to the joint comments. “We therefore urge EPA to follow through on its stated intent to conduct a rulemaking in the near future that codifies the agency’s current position on the proper scope of CWA regulation: that Congress excluded all releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater from NPDES program coverage and liability under Section 301 of the CWA, regardless of whether there is a hydrologic connection between the groundwater and ‘waters of the United States,’” the comments noted. 

NPPC MEMBER SPRONK TAPPED TO JOIN USDA AG ADVISORY COMMITTEE

NPPC Past President Randy Spronk (Minnesota) has been appointed to represent NPPC on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, USDA announced on Tuesday. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee provides advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on the administration of trade policy, including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements. Spronk replaces Past President Jon Caspers (Iowa) on the committee and joins past president Howard Hill (Iowa), who currently serves on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products. Spronk will serve until June 15, 2023.

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U.S. Pork Producers Call for USDA Oversight of Gene Edited Livestock on America’s Farms

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2019 – Based on recommendations by the administration’s Rural Development Taskforce, President Trump today signed an executive order to streamline regulations for agriculture biotechnology, a development welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

“Agriculture is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. economy,” said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. “Today’s executive order paves the way for common sense regulation to keep America first in agriculture so that we remain the global leader in an economic sector that has offset the U.S. trade imbalance for decades and that is so critical for the prosperity of our rural communities.”

The executive order (EO) provides a framework to support leadership in emerging technologies such as gene editing for livestock, an innovation that promises to eliminate costly diseases that cause animal suffering, lower the need to use antibiotics and to further reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. The EO directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate on common sense regulations and to develop awareness and education programs to gain acceptance of new technologies by consumers and global trading partners.

“The United States is falling behind countries such as Canada, Brazil and China that have established regulatory frameworks conducive to investment in the development of gene editing,” said Herring. “We are hopeful that this executive order breaks the FDA’s current grip on gene editing so a regulatory framework can be established at the USDA to ensure that American farmers – not our competitors in foreign markets – realize its vast potential.”

The FDA continues to advance a regulatory framework for gene edited livestock that runs counter to today’s executive order. Despite no statutory requirement, the FDA currently holds regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility – undermining U.S. agricultural competitiveness relative to other countries with more progressive gene editing regulatory policies.

NPPC will launch a new campaign, Keep America First in Agriculture, later this month to broaden awareness and understanding of gene editing’s promise for livestock agriculture.

# # #

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

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China Represents Single-Greatest Sales Opportunity in U.S. Pork History 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2019 – Expanding U.S. export markets is vital to the success of American pork producers, but trade disputes with some of our top markets, most notably China, are hampering growth and have caused severe financial harm to U.S. hog farmers, National Pork Producers Council Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.

“Mostly because of free trade agreements, the United States is the leading global exporter of pork. As a result, U.S. pork is an attractive candidate for trade retaliation. America’s hog farmers – and many other sectors of U.S. agriculture – have been at the tip of the trade retaliation spear for more than a year,” Giordano explained to the briefing at the National Press Club.

While Mexico’s 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork was recently lifted, America’s producers still face a stifling 62 percent tariff into China. There are enormous trade opportunities with China, especially to help offset reduced domestic production due to African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease with no vaccine treatment that poses no human health or food safety risks, but that is almost always fatal for hogs, Giordano noted.  ASF has spread to every province in China, other parts of Asia and in Europe.

Giordano said NPPC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection to strengthen biosecurity at our borders and on our farms to prevent its spread to the United States.

“We have always known that China holds more potential than any market in the world for increased U.S. pork sales. But, today, because of African swine fever, that potential is off the charts, offering the single greatest sales opportunity in our industry’s history,” said Giordano. “China needs reliable suppliers of pork now, and likely, well into the future. The question U.S. hog farmers are asking: ‘Will we get the main course, or will we get the crumbs off the table?’”

“For most of the last year, the U.S. pork industry has the dubious distinction of being on three retaliation lists: China and Mexico related to U.S. actions under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and China in response to U.S. tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974,” Giordano said. Last year, Mexico was the industry’s largest volume market and China was the third top market by volume, although punitive tariffs imposed by those two countries have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion over the last year.

“U.S. pork production costs are among the lowest in the world with safety and quality that are second to none. But for the retaliatory duties, the United States would be in a perfect position to take advantage of this massive import surge in the world’s largest pork-consuming nation and single handedly put a huge dent in the U.S. trade imbalance with China,” Giordano said. Instead, Chinese pork buyers are reaching out to those in Europe, Canada and Brazil for supplies. “What should have been a time of enormous prosperity and growth for U.S. pork producers and their suppliers will instead fuel jobs, profits and rural development for our competitors,” he noted.

“U.S. hog farmers understand the challenges faced by this administration in recalibrating U.S. trade policy toward China. The issues are myriad and complex. Moreover, hog farmers appreciate the farmer aid packages that the administration has put forward,” Giordano continued. “However, the China pork tariff needs to be lifted.”

Giordano’s full remarks can be read here.

# # #

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

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MEXICO IMPORT TARIFFS LOOM DURING NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. and Mexican government officials met several times this week to discuss and possibly head off looming tariffs on Mexico imports that will go into effect on Monday, June 10. In late May, President Trump announced plans to impose five percent tariffs on all Mexican imports as of June 10, with tariffs ratcheting up to 25% if Mexico does not stop the flow of Central Americans into the United States to the satisfaction of the administration. Representatives for both countries met Wednesday, Thursday and were scheduled to meet Friday. As of presstime, no agreement had been reached, while President Trump has drafted plans for a new national emergency declaration in order to impose tariffs on Mexico. In an interview with CNBC this week, NPPC President David Herring said, “Producers are extremely concerned about another potential trade retaliation from Mexico. We just got away from the 20% punitive tariffs just a few weeks ago.” Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion. NPPC urges we move past these tariffs by ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China. Additionally, NPPC this afternoon signed onto a statement issued by organizations representing a cross-section of U.S. economic sectors addressing the importance of tariff-free trade in North America as a cornerstone of U.S. economic growth. “Tariffs on Mexican imports would harm U.S. consumers, workers, farmers and businesses of all sizes across all sectors, making us less competitive and undermining efforts to negotiate strong trade deals in the future. We oppose unilateral tariffs and any subsequent retaliation,” according to the joint statement, initiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said.

 

EPA FINALIZES RULE EXEMPTING LIVESTOCK FARMERS FROM REPORTING ROUTINE FARM EMISSIONS
On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms. The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act, fixed a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component. The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups. EPA’s new rule exempts farmers from having to make reports to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – an adjunct to CERCLA – that they have “hazardous” emissions on their farms. The rule “is the final piece in the implementation of the FARM Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and eliminated the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure,” said NPPC President David Herring, and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. Read NPPC’s full release here.

 

USDA PROPOSAL EXEMPTS GE CROPS FROM USDA REGS
A proposed rule released Wednesday would exempt genetically engineered crops from USDA regulation. The proposal would exempt crops that have biotech traits that can be created through traditional breeding techniques. NPPC applauds USDA for a common-sense, pro-innovation approach. We urge USDA to follow the same approach for gene editing in pigs. Gene editing is an animal health breakthrough that will dramatically enhance animal care and food safety in America. Currently, the practice is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. This puts American farmers at a disadvantage, making this innovation unavailable to them while competitors around the world can realize its potential. We urge the administration to move regulatory oversight of gene editing in animals from the FDA to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. APHIS, which already regulates gene editing in plants, can ensure a proper, risk-based regulatory review under the Animal Health Protection Act. NPPC is leading the fight in Washington, D.C. for reform and making sure the administration knows we need the same for animals. For more on the issue, read our latest Hogs on the Hill blog post here.

 

SENATE APPROVES TARBERT AS NEW CFTC CHAIRMAN
On Wednesday, the Senate approved the nomination of Dr. Heath Tarbert to be the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The vote to approve his nomination was 84-9. Tarbert is expected to lead the agency beginning on July 15. NPPC was among signatories on a letter sent earlier this week to Senate leadership that offered a “strong endorsement” of Dr. Tarbert. “Because our members rely on well-functioning agriculture and energy derivate markets—both exchange-traded futures and options, and over-the-counter products—to hedge the commercial risks inherent in agricultural production, processing and marketing, we want to ensure the CFTC is led by a well-qualified chairman. If confirmed, Dr. Tarbert would bring a deep background in financial regulation, along with experience holding important leadership posts in the private and public sector,” the letter noted.

 

EU, SOUTH AMERICA BILATERAL TRADE DEAL IMMINENT
The European Union and South America are close to finalizing a bilateral trade agreement, leaders of the two countries announced on Thursday. The Mercosur bloc, which currently groups together Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, has been in negotiations with the EU since 1999 to establish a trade agreement. Officials from the countries have raised hopes the deal could be finalized by the last week in June, just before a G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

 

AMENDMENT APPROVED TO SPENDING BILL THAT DELAYS NEW USDA SWINE INSPECTION SYSTEM
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY2020 Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration spending bill, with an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would prevent USDA from finalizing its New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule until the agency’s Inspector General reviews data on the proposal. NPPC continues to support the proposed new system, which has been tested and scrutinized for years, and designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process. In a column by NPPC Director of Science and Technology Dan Kovich in Pork Magazine, he highlights how the new inspection system would increase efficiency and effectiveness, allow for the rapid adoption of new food-safety technology in pork processing and potentially increase U.S. harvest capacity. Unfortunately, some in the media have misreported the intent of the USDA proposal and NPPC has been pushing back on incorrect information. Meantime, the spending bill now awaits a vote on the House floor.

 

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TRUMP ANNOUNCES TARIFF ON MEXICAN IMPORTS; NPPC URGES RECONSIDERATION OF TRADE DISPUTE
Late Thursday, President Trump announced plans to impose five percent tariffs on all Mexican imports as of June 10, 2019, with tariffs ratcheting up to 25% if Mexico does not stop the flow of Central Americans into the United States to the satisfaction of the administration. In a statement, NPPC President David Herring said we “appeal to President Trump to reconsider plans to open a new tariff dispute with Mexico. American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement. Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion.” NPPC urged we move past these tariffs by ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China. Read NPPC’s full statement here.

 

NPPC FIGHTS BACK AGAINST FOOD PURCHASE FOREIGN OWNERSHIP CONCERNS
On Thursday, nine Senate Democrats sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging that the agency’s Food Purchase and Distribution Program doesn’t benefit foreign-owned companies. In interviews with both The Washington Post and Politico, NPPC strongly pushed back against the inaccuracies made in the letter. Under current law, the program already requires any purchases to be domestically produced and processed in the United States. Purchases are already made through a competitive process for approved vendors. When the purchases are complete, they’ll take about a week’s worth of supply off the market – and deliver a nutritious food product to the needy. “The real purpose [of the program] is to take product off the domestic market that otherwise would have been exported,” said NPPC Director of Economics Dustin Baker. “By preventing companies from joining, all you’re doing is increasing the cost of delivering that product to those who need it the most,” he told the Post.

 

COURT RULES EPA VIOLATED LAW IN WOTUS FINAL RULE
On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that EPA violated the law in making changes to the 2015 waters of the United States (WOTUS) final rule that were not in the proposed rule. According to the court filing, it found that “that the final rule violated the notice-and-comment requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedures Act) and therefore grants summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on this ground.” The court decision sent WOTUS back to EPA, and according to news reports, the rule is still on the books in about half the states not covered by the preliminary injunctions. The 2015 WOTUS rule gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include, among other water bodies, 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.

 

U.S., DENMARK DISCUSS ASF PREVENTION PLANS 
USDA Chief Veterinarian Jack Shere visited his counterpart in Denmark last week to discuss plans that the country has to prevent the entry of African swine fever, as well as their response preparation. NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom was in attendance last week, along with the Danish pork industry. As part of the trip, the group visited the fence being built along the border with Germany, their mandatory truck washes for livestock transporters entering Denmark and the wild boar depopulation program in a forest in the south of the country.

 

NPPC ATTENDS PARIS OIE CONFERENCE, WITH ASF AMONG TOPICS DISCUSSED
NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom attended the 87th General Session of the World Assembly of National Delegates of the OIE this week in Paris, as part of the U.S. delegation. African swine fever was among topics discussed and the need to work on ASF-specific standards for regionalization and compartmentalization. She also met with other delegations interested in controlling ASF, as well as the need of global acceptance for regionalization and compartmentalization by trading partners. Other topics of interest included work on antimicrobial resistance, animal welfare and animal disease reporting.

 

U.S., JAPAN TRADE TALKS ONGOING
On Tuesday, President Trump returned to Washington, D.C. after a four-day visit to Japan, meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both officials agreed to accelerate trade talks between the two countries, although President Trump indicated a deal would likely be delayed until after July. NPPC urges the U.S. to expeditiously initiate a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. The country is the largest value market and the second largest volume market for U.S. pork exports.

 

U.S. RATIFICATION OF USMCA MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER
The White House on Thursday sent a draft “Statement of Administrative Action” to Congress, triggering a process that allows President Trump to submit the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal for approval within 30 days. The document outlines the U.S. laws that will change in order for USMCA to go into effect. NPPC strongly supports USMCA ratification, which preserves zero-tariff trade for U.S. pork to two of its largest export markets. However, given Thursday’s announcement about a tariff being imposed on all Mexican imports, it’s unclear what affect this will have on USMCA ratification.

 

CANADA, MEXICO MOVING AHEAD WITH USMCA RATIFICATION
On Wednesday, the Canadian government formally presented draft legislation to parliament that would ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The move comes after President Trump lifted the steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this month on Canada and Mexico. However, there is only a limited amount of time for Canada to debate the issue. Their summer recess begins on June 21 and are not scheduled to return until November. NPPC strongly supports USMCA ratification, which preserves zero-tariff trade for U.S. pork to two of its largest export markets. Canada is the fifth largest volume and fourth largest value market for U.S. pork exports. Meantime, on Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent the renegotiated trade deal for Senate approval. He’s asking lawmakers to hold a special session to approve the deal prior to their next regularly scheduled meeting in September. It’s not clear when the U.S. Congress plans to take up USMCA ratification. However, given Thursday’s announcement about a tariff being imposed on all Mexican imports, it’s unclear what affect this will have on USMCA ratification.

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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2019 The National Pork Producers Council today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for finalizing its rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms.

“Today’s rule is the final piece in the implementation of the FARM Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and eliminated the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure,” said NPPC President David Herring, and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. “That bipartisan measure was approved because it was unnecessary and impractical for farmers to waste time and resources alerting government agencies that there are livestock on farms.”

The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act, fixed a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.

The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups.

EPA’s new rule exempts farmers from having to make reports to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – an adjunct to CERCLA – that they have “hazardous” emissions on their farms.  The state and local first responders have been clear that they consider these reports unnecessary and burdensome. Instead, they prefer open lines of communication and information sharing at the local level with farmers, something the U.S. pork industry is already undertaking.  In many communities, U.S. pork producers are also local fire chiefs or members of the fire department.  Additionally, the U.S. pork industry has already changed its industry best practices through the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus) program to encourage producers to engage with local first responders and create open lines of communication.

“The pork industry wants regulations that are practical and effective but applying CERCLA and EPCRA to livestock farms is neither,” Herring said. “Pork producers are very strong stewards of the environment and have taken many actions over the years to protect it.  We applaud President Trump for relieving America’s farmers from filing these unnecessary reports,” he added.

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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

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