NPPC Comments on Failed Farm Bill

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is displeased that the House of Representatives on Thursday failed to approve the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013” (H.R. 1947). The bill failed on a vote of 195-234.

The measure did not include the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments,” or Egg Bill, pushed by the Humane Society of the United States and strongly opposed by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

The bill did include several provisions backed by NPPC, including an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that prohibits states from dictating production restrictions on agricultural goods sold within their own borders but produced in other states.

The NPPC also supported a measure sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) to prevent the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from doing further work on the so-called GIPSA Rule related to livestock contracts.

In expressing strong disappointment with the defeat of the farm bill, NPPC urged the House leadership to craft a bill that benefits U.S. agriculture and to approve it before Sept. 30, when the current farm bill expires.

NPPC supports a five-year farm bill that strengthens the U.S. pork industry’s competitiveness, funds operational costs for a comprehensive surveillance system and robust research, retains funding for agricultural trade promotion and provides an economic safety net for farmers.

The House leadership is likely to meet early next week to discuss their next steps.

 

 

House’s Failure to Pass Farm Bill Labeled a 'True Injustice'

 

“The House did the American people a true injustice today,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said Thursday after learning that the legislative body failed to pass the Farm Bill in a 234-195 vote.

The Grange, America's oldest agriculture and rural advocacy group, has been a significant supporter of the bill that Luttrell said would have offered stability to one of the nation's leading industries.  

“Last year's extension of the Farm Bill was extremely disappointing to the ag community and the House's failure to pass the bill today just deepens this frustration,” Luttrell said. “The farm bill isn't just about farming and agriculture. It's about jobs, energy, and our nation's overall recovery in this still struggling economy. One in 12 American jobs depend upon agriculture and without the strength and stability provided by the farm bill, our nation's farmers and ranchers will be unable to make rational, informed decisions about the future.”   

National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said the failure comes mainly from proposed cuts to the 80% of farm bill spending marked for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.  

“Cuts to the SNAP program were undoubtedly the cause of today's farm bill rejection in the House, which is especially frustrating because I believe that the Senate and House bills had a lot of common ground on which to build. It's going to be a long and dreary road from here as the Washington ag community regroups and reevaluates its work on this issue,” Boatright said.   

Boatright said the continued inability of Congress to move forward on even the most crucial measures is disappointing.  

“Unfortunately, American agriculture and the millions of people who benefit from it can't wait for Washington to resolve its issues. We needed action today and I know I speak for our more than 160,000 members when I say we are incredibly disappointed by the House's failure to pass this vital piece of legislation.”

Boatright and Luttrell agreed that there is public misunderstanding about aspects of the bill, but say Congress should be more aware than the average American of the need to pass legislation that gives farmers a better safety net, enhances conservation, stabilizes and enhances safety measures for food and assists in the promotion of our products in foreign markets.

 

 

Internal Biosecurity: Key Link to Bar PEDV?

Internal Biosecurity: Key Link to Bar PEDV?

Transportation could indeed be a key weak link when it comes to keeping porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus out of your hog operation. Collection points are especially troublesome in ease of tracking it back to the farm.

However, equally as important to staying disease-free is maintaining internal biosecurity in a production system, says James McKean, DVM, Iowa State University.

“If you have multiple sites, the virus may come into one of those sites. Your goal is to put up enough internal biosecurity to avoid tracking it into one of those other sites and eventually back into your farrowing operation,” he says.

PED virus transmission is oral-fecal, meaning pigs ingest the virus-laden manure and become infected.

 

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To avoid cross-contamination, make sure that all objects, such as boots, equipment and even the bottoms of pressure washers are free of manure and properly disinfected and dried. Wash your hands and wear a clean change of clothes before working in other phases of the operation, McKean instructs.

“If we could get people to think about their internal biosecurity, maybe we could keep the virus in one barn instead of eight barns,” he says. “Then it is easier to get rid of. Take a long, deep breath. Try and get this disease corralled. Then look at what it would take to get it eliminated,” McKean states.

Epidemiological Survey

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) is conducting an epidemiological survey to characterize the PED virus outbreak.  The USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health has begun work this week analyzing 43 completed surveys (including 18 control herds), says Harry Snelson, director of communications for the AASV.

The database has been scrubbed of any personal identifiers, validated and entered into a database at AASV.

“The objective of the survey is to attempt to identify how the virus was introduced into the U.S. swine herd,” Snelson explains. “While it is unlikely that this survey will identify the specific route of introduction, we are hoping it will provide a hypothesis that we might then be able to research.”

Also, the National Pork Board/National Pork Producers Council working group identified research proposals to fund covering epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnostics, environment, etc. The research work is set to begin shortly.

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House’s Failure to Pass Farm Bill Labeled a 'True Injustice'

House’s Failure to Pass Farm Bill Labeled a 'True Injustice'

“The House did the American people a true injustice today,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said Thursday after learning that the legislative body failed to pass the Farm Bill in a 234-195 vote.

The Grange, America's oldest agriculture and rural advocacy group, has been a significant supporter of the bill that Luttrell said would have offered stability to one of the nation's leading industries.  

“Last year's extension of the Farm Bill was extremely disappointing to the ag community and the House's failure to pass the bill today just deepens this frustration,” Luttrell said. “The farm bill isn't just about farming and agriculture. It's about jobs, energy, and our nation's overall recovery in this still struggling economy. One in 12 American jobs depend upon agriculture and without the strength and stability provided by the farm bill, our nation's farmers and ranchers will be unable to make rational, informed decisions about the future.”   

National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said the failure comes mainly from proposed cuts to the 80% of farm bill spending marked for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.  

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to the National Hog Farmer Weekly Wrap Up newsletter and get the latest news delivered right to your inbox every week!

“Cuts to the SNAP program were undoubtedly the cause of today's farm bill rejection in the House, which is especially frustrating because I believe that the Senate and House bills had a lot of common ground on which to build. It's going to be a long and dreary road from here as the Washington ag community regroups and reevaluates its work on this issue,” Boatright said.   

Boatright said the continued inability of Congress to move forward on even the most crucial measures is disappointing.  

“Unfortunately, American agriculture and the millions of people who benefit from it can't wait for Washington to resolve its issues. We needed action today and I know I speak for our more than 160,000 members when I say we are incredibly disappointed by the House's failure to pass this vital piece of legislation.”

Boatright and Luttrell agreed that there is public misunderstanding about aspects of the bill, but say Congress should be more aware than the average American of the need to pass legislation that gives farmers a better safety net, enhances conservation, stabilizes and enhances safety measures for food and assists in the promotion of our products in foreign markets.

You might also like:

Forego Hog Expansion Plans for Now

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House Defeats Farm Bill

“The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is highly disappointed the House did not complete work on the 2013 farm bill, the ‘Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.’  It was a balanced bill that would have provided much-needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers, remarks Bob Stallman, AFBF president.

“We commend House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their commitment and hard work in bringing the bill to the floor and working toward its passage. We look forward to working with them as we regroup and move forward. We also appreciate House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for working with the Agriculture Committee leadership to bring the bill to the floor.

“A completed farm bill is much needed to provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming years and to allow the Agriculture Department to plan for an orderly implementation of the bill’s provisions.”

 

 

Restaurant Chains Call on Congress to Repeal the RFS

The National Council on Chain Restaurants is campaigning against ethanol

The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) today launched “Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu,” a new grassroots campaign focused on repealing the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the corn ethanol mandate. Coalition members joined with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to expose the harmful economic effects of the RFS on American consumers, diners and small business-owners and operators. 

“The National Council of Chain Restaurants is committed to repealing the corn ethanol mandate and the Renewable Fuel Standard,” NCCR Executive Director Rob Green says. “Today we are mobilizing the restaurant community to join this coalition – composed of small businesses owners, operators, franchisees and the entire food supply chain – to urge Congress to repeal the flawed RFS. The law unfairly increases food and commodity costs for chain restaurants and ultimately American diners and shoppers across the country. It is time for small business to engage directly in this important debate and ask their lawmakers to take RFS off the menu.”

Coalition members and partners in attendance at the Capitol Hill news conference included chain restaurant companies, small business owners, operators and franchisees and supply chain partners, who each described how the RFS hurts their business, stifles economic growth and adversely impacts consumers and diners.  

“White Castle is a fourth-generation family business,” says Lisa Ingram, president of White Castle. “We have seen firsthand how increasing food prices caused by the Renewable Fuel Standard affect not only our business, but American families who patronize our restaurants.  In total, the RFS and corn ethanol mandate costs chain restaurants up to $3.2 billion annually.” 

 

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“I began my career in Jackson, MI, training to be a manager for a local franchise,” says Mark Behm, a Wendy’s franchise owner in Michigan. “Now nearly 40 years later, my partners and I own the franchise. We are in pursuit of the American dream. But operating a small business in the United States is hard, especially in Michigan and during these economic times. The federal ethanol mandate unfairly increases the cost of food across the board."

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has directly affected the supply and cost of feed in major agricultural sectors of this country, affecting the family ranch and farm,” adds Steve Foglesong, a cattle producer and former president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Even in the wake of the worst drought in decades, the Environmental Protection Agency refused to grant relief through a waiver, making it apparent that the RFS is broken and Congress needs to act. Cattlemen and women are not opposed to renewable fuels, but are seeking a level playing field to compete for a bushel of corn.” 

“Feed Food Fairness” will mobilize a broad base of small business owners and operators and coalition members to urge Congress to pass the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act (H.R. 1461), introduced by Goodlatte, which would repeal the federal RFS mandate. 

Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu” is supported by small business chain restaurateurs and other members of America’s food chain. To learn more visit www.RFSOfftheMenu.org.

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Senators Urge Broad Review of Smithfield Sale

Senators Urge Broad Review of Smithfield Sale

A bipartisan group of senators including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking member of the committee, raised questions Wednesday regarding government oversight of the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods and future foreign acquisitions of American agriculture companies.

The senators urged Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to include both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in the review of the proposed purchase of Smithfield foods so that the oversight process includes experts on the American food supply and food safety.

The proposed acquisition by Shuanghui International, a Chinese food company, will undergo a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and the treasury secretary has the authority to add the agencies to the review process.

The senators said that the foreign purchase of such a significant American agricultural company – the largest acquisition of any American company by a Chinese company in history – raises a number of broader questions about how such transactions are reviewed and whether the appropriate authorities are evaluating risks and ensuring American interests are protected.

The senators questioned whether reviews of these sales are adequately reviewed to take into account American national security interests, uphold food safety standards, whether overall trends in foreign ownership of the American food supply are examined, and whether appropriate measures are in place to safeguard American intellectual property.

In their letter, the senators wrote: “We believe that our food supply is critical infrastructure that should be included in any reasonable person’s definition of national security.  As such, we strongly encourage you to include the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in any CFIUS review of this transaction, and consider designating the Department of Agriculture as one of its lead agencies.  Further, any CFIUS review of this transaction should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety, and biosecurity.

“Considering the potential for other foreign acquisitions of American food and agriculture companies, we also have a number of broader questions about how these transactions are reviewed and whether the appropriate authorities are evaluating potential risks and proposing sufficient mitigation measures to protect American interests.

“The United States has the safest, most efficient and reliable food supply in the world.  It is one of our nation’s great strengths, and we must ensure that it is preserved and protected.  The Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will further examine how this transaction is reviewed and how these transactions should be reviewed in the future.”

The letter was signed by a bipartisan group of 15 senators of the Agriculture Committee including Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. William Cowan (D-MA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Mike Donnelly (D-IL) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). 

 

 

Repealing the Death Tax Supported by Farm Bureau

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) supports legislation introduced today in both the House and Senate that would permanently repeal the estate tax. Sen. John Thune’s (R-SD.) bill, The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013, coupled with bipartisan legislation of the same title introduced by Reps. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), is welcomed by America’s farm and ranch families.

While significant tax relief was enacted last year to help farmers cope with estate taxes, AFBF believes that permanent repeal is still the best solution to protect all farms and ranches. The legislation introduced today would repeal the estate tax, maintain stepped-up basis and make permanent a 35% maximum gift tax rate and $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption indexed for inflation. 

“Individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98% of our nation’s two million farms and ranches,” says AFBF President Bob Stallman.  “When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners may be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their businesses running. This not only can cripple a farm or ranch operation, but also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.”

The value of family-owned farms and ranches is usually tied to liquid assets, such as land, buildings and equipment, AFBS says. With 85% of farm and ranch assets liquid, producers have few options when it comes to generating cash to pay the estate tax. Recent increases in agriculture cropland values, on average 15% from 2011 to 2012, have greatly expanded the number of farms and ranches that now top the estate tax exemption.

“Farm Bureau believes the estate tax should be eliminated permanently,” Stallman concludes. “We fully support The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 to get the job done.”

 

 

 

Smithfield Sponsors Bacon Celebration

 

To celebrate America’s bacon obsession, from breakfast to dessert, the 42nd annual Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will host the Bacon Celebration Event sponsored by Smithfield Foodservice.  Foodservice professionals will be able to discover various ways to use bacon in the All-New Bacon Demonstration Theater during the show, taking place Sept. 22-24, 2013 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. 

“We are excited to partner with Smithfield Foodservice on this new feature area, and give our attendees a chance to learn new recipes for bacon, the second-fastest growing segment for pork at foodservice outlets,” says Ron Mathews, industry vice president for Reed Exhibitions' Foodservice Events. “Our goal for the restaurant events is to bring new concepts and trends for our attendees to engage and learn from.  With 62% of restaurants offering bacon on the menu. this is a perfect fit for our audience.”

The Bacon Celebration Event is being sponsored by Smithfield Foodservice, dedicated to the needs of foodservice operators producing the highest quality fresh pork and value-added pork products. “With bacon fanaticism at an all-time high, we're proud to sponsor the Bacon Celebration Event at this year's show,” says Kristen Orr, associate brand manager for Smithfield Foodservice. “Bacon is one of the most versatile ingredients, now used in everything from sandwiches to sweets, so we're looking forward to celebrating new and original uses alongside some of Florida's leading chefs and restaurateurs.”

The 42nd annual Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show will include hundreds of exhibitors showcasing thousands of new products and services including 3M Foodservice, Domino Foods Inc., True Foodservice Equipment, and U.S. Foods – in addition to 500 booths of food and supply products for restaurants and foodservice professionals.  Reed Exhibitions will be giving away $20,000 in product vouchers throughout the show.  There will also be several special events, included in the "Exhibits Plus" pass. 

  • Food Trends Experience –debuted in 2012 to overwhelming excitement, this tasting arena and Demo Theater will be home to more than 100 trend- focused food and beverage products.  This is the perfect place to find and source new products. 
  • Ferdinand Metz Foodservice Forum –offers an educational program showing the keys to a successful foodservice business from experts chosen by Ferdinand Metz, Certified Master Chef, Dean for Le Cordon Bleu and the past president of the World Association of Chefs Societies.
  • Culinary Demonstration Theater –Featured chefs include Chef Emily Ellyn, as well as other industry professionals, will highlight the trends in the foodservice industry and entertain spectators with demonstrations.
  • The 2013 American Culinary Federation Culinary Arts Competition. Chefs will compete in various competitions, including the USA Culinary Cup Challenge, Taste of Elegance Port Signature Recipe Competition, Mushroom Signature Recipe Competition and Florida Pastry Challenge. Many of the award winning meals will be served during the Chef's Table Luncheons, a four-course surprise lunch prepared by the participating chefs.

 

 

 

 

Second-Quarter Pork Production Holds Steady

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook for June 18 has revised its second-quarter forecast for pork production to 5.52 billion pounds, about even with production for the second quarter in 2012.

The change is due to a smaller-than-expected June hog slaughter and slightly lower average dressed weights.

U.S. commercial pork production in 2013 is anticipated to reach 23.4 billion pounds, about a percentage point higher than last year.

USDA forecasts second-quarter average price of 51-52% lean live equivalent hogs to be $63-64/cwt., about 3% higher than a year ago.

USDA predicts that hog prices in 2013 will average $59-$61/cwt., about 1% below the average annual price last year.

For 2014, pork production is forecast at 24 billion pounds, and prices are expected to average $56-$60/cwt.

Exports Lower

In April, U.S. pork exports declined by almost 397 million pounds or about 12% lower than a year ago. The majority of the reduction was attributed to continued demand weakness in major Asian markets.

For example, exports to Japan fell by almost 9% compared to a year ago, based on yen depreciation, slightly higher domestic pork production and increased imports of U.S. beef. China/Hong Kong bought about 39% less U.S. pork than a year ago due to adequate domestic supplies. U.S. export data indicates about one-third less U.S. pork was exported to South Korea in April than a year ago.

In contrast, Canada and Mexico imported more U.S. pork products in April compared with a year ago. Shipments to Mexico climbed to almost 98 million pounds in April, approximately 12% higher than a year ago. And pork exports to Canada increased 3.5% year-over-year to 40.7 million pounds. The two U.S. trading partners accounted for about 35% of U.S. pork exports in April.

In all, second-quarter pork exports are projected to total 1.23 billion pounds, nearly 6% below a year ago. For 2013, pork exports are expected to reach about 5 billion pounds, 6.6% below a year ago. In 2014, pork exports are expected to rebound by 4.5% compared with the forecast for 2013.

Swine imports in April were at almost 427,000 head, all of which originated from Canada. The 8% reduction in volume was mainly in heavy feeder pigs – 51 to 110 lb. Segregated early weaned pig imports also dropped by 2%.

In the second quarter, USDA projects U.S. swine imports to total 1.340 million head, 7% below a year ago. For 2013, about 5% less or 5.396 million head are to be imported.