Pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as soon as possible is the main message from the witnesses representing the pork, beef, sheep, turkey and chicken industries at the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing, “Reviewing the State of the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Economies.” They emphasize the challenges they face with the ongoing trade wars and lack of new trade agreements. The witnesses also say the United States needs to complete a trade agreement with Japan and reach an agreement to end the trade war with China.
The National Pork Producers Council President David Herring told the committee the China trade war and retaliatory tariffs cost U.S. pork producers $1 billion on an annualized basis or $8 per animal. He also says the United States is losing market share in Japan because the European Union and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership nations have a competitive advantage with their trade agreements. He says, “We are going to continue to hemorrhage market share unless we quickly get the same market access our competitors have in Japan.”
Other issues discussed during the hearing were African swine fever, labor shortages and the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program.
Prioritize inspection of ag products
Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA) and James Baird (R-IN) are calling on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prioritize inspections and screenings of imported agricultural goods to help prevent an outbreak of African swine fever in the United States.
In a letter to the head of the U.S. CBP, the members say, “As ASF continues to spread overseas, it is imperative that CBP prevent an outbreak in the United States. To accomplish this, we respectfully request CBP prioritize agricultural inspections and screenings to prevent the introduction of ASF or other foreign animal diseases to American swine herds. Maintaining strict standards of inspection is critical to ensuring our border and our farmers remain safe from this growing threat.”
Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate — the “Protecting Americas Food and Agricultural Act of 2019” — which would increase the focus on the shortage of agricultural inspectors at the U.S. border and give the U.S. CBP the authority to hire additional inspectors. The bill was introduced by Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Treasury Employees Union, Border Trade Alliance, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the National Pork Producers Council.
The NPPC is calling for an increase in funding for an additional 600 U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Inspectors. This would bring the total number of inspectors to 3,000.
Besides China, ASF outbreaks have been reported in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and South Africa.
Hot dogs and baseball on Capitol Hill
Hundreds of Senators, Representatives, Congressional staff and meat industry leaders consumed hundreds of hot dogs and corn dogs at this year’s Hot Dog Day on Capitol Hill sponsored by the North American Meat Institute.
Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers (Oakland As), Brady Anderson (Baltimore Orioles) and Ray Knight (New York Mets) signed autographs for those in attendance on July 17. This is one of the most popular events on Capitol Hill.