By National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
For the Week Ending July 16, 2021
URGES FOR PROP 12 IMPLEMENTATION DELAY
In comments to the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Monday, NPPC outlined how Proposition 12 “would create a burdensome, bureaucratic labyrinth of regulatory provisions,” causing significant harm to both pork producers and consumers. In its comments, NPPC urged the state to delay the Proposition 12 implementation by at least two years from the date when the regulations are finalized. Set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, Proposition 12 will impose arbitrary animal housing standards that reach far outside the state’s borders to farms across the country, while driving up costs for both pork producers and consumers. The state was required to finalize implementation regulations by September 2019, and only issued the proposed regulations in May. “Prop. 12 thus provided significant lead time for the new rules to be adopted and for farmers, distributors, and retailers to adapt an inspection, compliance, and audit system before any penalties would be effective. The failure to timely promulgate these rules and regulations means hog farmers will be unable to make the significant changes to their operation before Prop 12’s date of implementation,” NPPC wrote. NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike down Proposition 12 as unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause. Oral arguments were held in mid-April and a court ruling is anticipated soon.
ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR HOG FARMERS DUE TO COVID-RELATED LOSSES
On Tuesday, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled additional assistance for livestock farmers who suffered COVID-related losses due to reductions in harvest capacity. The Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP), authorized by the FY2021 appropriations package enacted in December 2020, will provide more than $300 million in payments, the majority of which is expected to be directed to pork producers. Livestock producers can begin to apply for PLIP funding beginning July 20. The application deadline is Sept. 17, 2021. The PLIP is the result of NPPC advocacy last year that included legislation passed by Congress in December authorizing USDA to implement the program. Additionally, Secretary Vilsack announced $50 million in funding to develop a program specifically to assist small pork producers who relied primarily on spot transactions during the pandemic. Details are expected later this summer. For more details, visit here.
AMENDMENT ALLOWING YEAR-ROUND H-2A VISA FOR FY2022 APPROVED IN FUNDING BILL
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security funding bill that would allow the H-2A temporary agriculture guestworker program to be accessed year-round—rather than seasonal— for the FY2022 year. The amendment, by Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), was adopted by voice vote. “Our farmers and ranchers are in desperate need of a legal and reliable workforce,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Unfortunately, the H-2A program does not work for all of agriculture. As farming methods have become less seasonal or able to produce multiple harvests, the H-2A program must be updated to meet the needs of the agriculture industry,” he added. The amendment comes as NPPC continues to aggressively engage lawmakers regarding the severe labor shortage in the pork industry. In support of its lobbying efforts, NPPC recently launched its “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign to highlight the vital role of foreign-born workers across the U.S. pork industry and the critical need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage. NPPC recognizes that it’s very likely there will be a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, and will press for this critically important amendment to be passed via any means possible.
SCHEDULES JULY 21 VOTE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE BILL; TEXT IN LIMBO
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that a bipartisan infrastructure package would be brought for a vote on Wednesday, July 21. The bill, which is reported to include nearly $1 trillion for traditional infrastructure over the next five years, was the result of negotiations last month between centrist senators of both parties. While a general framework has been agreed to, legislative text has not been finalized. Simultaneously, the Senate is also approaching finalizing a $3.5 trillion FY22 budget resolution that will provide the framework for a reconciliation package later this year likely to focus on “human infrastructure” funded by tax reform. While no Senate Republicans are likely to support the budget reconciliation, some members beyond the negotiating team have been debating support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. To read the White House’s release on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, click here.
JOINS GROUPS URGING USTR NOT TO IMPOSE VIETNAMESE TARIFFS
NPPC joined 75 other trade associations on Wednesday in urging the U.S. Trade Representative not to impose tariffs on Vietnamese products over currency concerns and illegal timber investigations. “Since the normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations more than two decades ago, multiple U.S. administrations have prioritized closer ties with a willing partner in Vietnam. If the United States were to impose Section 301 tariffs on goods from Vietnam, the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships across the Indo-Pacific region would suffer a serious setback,” wrote the associations. In late December 2020, NPPC Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Maria Zieba testified that tariffs on Vietnamese imports would have left U.S. hog farmers vulnerable to retaliation on U.S. pork imports. Vietnam is a major pork-consuming nation dealing with African swine fever outbreaks in its domestic herd, with significant demand for imported pork. The U.S. does not have a free trade agreement with Vietnam and is at a competitive disadvantage to Canada, the EU, Mexico and other supplier nations. A number of non-tariff barriers act as an additional barrier on U.S. pork exports to Vietnam. Greater market access for U.S. pork in Vietnam is one of NPPC’s top priorities. A copy of this week’s letter is available here.
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE APPROVES BIANCHI, WHITE AS DEPUTY TRADE REPS
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nominations of Sarah Bianchi and Jayme White as deputy U.S. trade representatives. If confirmed by the full Senate, they will serve under U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Bianchi has spent nearly a decade in government roles in economic and domestic policy, including in the Office of the Vice President, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. White has spent two decades on Capitol Hill, and has served in the U.S. Senate since 2009, including as the chief trade advisor for the Senate Finance Committee since 2014.
CONFIRMS SU AS DEPUTY LABOR SECRETARY
On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Julie Su as deputy labor secretary on a 50-47 party-line vote. After approval by the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension Committee earlier this year, her nomination faced significant Republican resistance. In her role as California Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, she oversaw several dramatic overhauls to the state’s labor policies, including the implementation of AB 5, which adopted a modified ABC test that helps employers determine whether a worker is considered an independent contractor or an employee. Earlier this year, the Biden Administration rescinded an eleventh-hour rulemaking from the Trump Administration changing the independent contractor definition to a modified economic realities test. While no new definition has been proposed, Biden expressed his support for federal use of the ABC test along the campaign trail.
LAUNCHES WEBSITE TO HIGHLIGHT SAFETY-RELATED LABELING CHANGES TO ANIMAL
On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new resource to improve transparency and communication with veterinarians, animal producers and consumers about safety-related labeling changes made to FDA-approved animal drug products for all species. The new resource website provides information on recent safety-related labeling changes and will be updated monthly when changes to drug labeling are approved by the FDA. The site posts the safety-related labeling changes for animal drugs beginning January 2021. The safety-related labeling change information will be available on the site for two years after it is first listed. For more information about the most current labeling for a particular animal drug, veterinarians should contact the drug’s sponsor. A link to the website is here.
ADDS TO DC STAFF
This week, NPPC added Holly Cook to its Washington, D.C. office. Cook, who started this week as staff economist, most recently received her master’s degree in agriculture economics from Iowa State University. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she interned with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the National Pork Board and with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) Washington, D.C., office. NPPC is excited to welcome Holly to the team.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday, July 21, to discuss, “Immigrant Farmworkers are Essential to Feeding America.” NPPC recently launched its “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign to highlight the vital role of foreign-born workers across the U.S. pork industry and the critical need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage. The hearing begins at 10am ET and can be viewed here.