“Pork producers, not animal-right activists, lawmakers or regulators, should make the decisions about what production practices are best for their animals and for producing safe food,” National Pork Producers Council CEO Neil Dierks said before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law’s hearing on “No Regulation Without Representation.”
The hearing dealt with the growing concern of states regulating beyond their borders. Dierks gave the example of California and Massachusetts banning certain production practices for products to be sold in their states which covers both in-state and out-of-state products. He says, “Changes in production practices should be driven by the marketplace, not government fiats or even ballot initiatives.”
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced H.R. 2887, the “No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017,” that would prohibit states from adopting laws and regulations that ban the sale of out-of-state products that don’t meet their criteria.
Do no harm to ag during NAFTA renegotiations
“Do no harm” during the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was the key message from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, U.S. Grains Council and the National Oilseeds Processors Association during the House Agriculture Committee’s hearing on “Renegotiating NAFTA: Opportunities for Agriculture.”
NAFTA represents 28% of the U.S. agricultural exports and since 1993 agricultural exports have increased from $8.9 billion to over $38 billion. The NCBA says that Canada and Mexico have been two of the U.S.’ top five beef export markets with approximately $1 billion each in annual sales. Also, the NCBA warns not to use NAFTA renegotiations as a means to “resurrect” country-of-origin labeling.
The USGC says uncertainty caused by the administration’s action on announcing the renegotiation of NAFTA has caused Mexico to look for alternative sources for corn and other grain products. Those actions have resulted in a 4% decline in corn exports which represents a 7% decline in value since the beginning of the year compared to 2016. Poultry sales to Mexico have dropped 10% this year. The USGC and others urged the administration to finish the renegotiations by the end of the year or the erosion in exports will continue.
However, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association says most of the growth in Mexico’s fruit and vegetable exports under NAFTA have come at the expense of U.S. production. Mexico’s volumes have soared and prices have fallen thus U.S. fresh tomatoes are not able to keep up with rising costs according to Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Exchange.
EPA and Army Corps move to end WOTUS
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are moving forward to end the Waters of the U.S. rule. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says, “We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses. This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine waters of the U.S. and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”
The EPA’s two-step process will be 1: rescind the definition of “waters of the U.S.” and 2: if EPA and the Corps rescind the definition (WOTUS rule) then they will propose a new rule that would re-codify the regulations that existed before WOTUS.
The two agencies started the process this week by publishing a proposed rule to withdraw the 2015 WOTUS rule. The proposed rule allows for a 30-day public comment period that ends Aug. 28. Environmental groups and a number of Congressmen and Senators are calling on the EPA to allow for a 90-day comment period.