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A Call for H1N1 Outreach

A number of agricultural organizations thanked the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for its efforts to “clear up” public misinformation about the nature of the novel H1N1 influenza virus. In a letter to the FAO, the agricultural groups said, “The initial misnaming of the H1N1 virus as swine flu caused the North American pork industry to suffer significant losses. U.S. pork producers were losing just under $10 per head on April 24, the first day the H1N1 flu received wide media attention. That number soared to over $30 per head as consumer demand for pork fell and some U.S. trading partners closed their markets to U.S. pork despite the large body of evidence demonstrating that the virus is not transmitted through food. Even the U.S. beef and poultry industries, which weren't directly tied to H1N1, have suffered losses because export markets were closed in reaction to H1N1 in the United States.” Those signing the letter were the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Meat Export Federation and the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council.

Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule that will require companies that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to begin collecting greenhouse gas data under a new reporting system. The rule will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. According to EPA, “For the first time, we begin collecting data from the largest facilities in this country, ones that account for approximately 85% of the total U.S. emissions.” It estimated this rule will cover approximately 10,000 facilities. Food production facilities are exempt.

Congressmen Urge Resolution of Chinese Chicken Issue — Thirty-seven congressmen have written the House agricultural appropriations leadership urging them to resolve the issue concerning the importation of cooked poultry products from China. The House-passed fiscal year 2010 agricultural appropriations bill prohibits USDA from conducting risk assessments of cooked poultry products from China to determine their eligibility for export to the United States. The provision has been in place for two years and, as a result, the Chinese have filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against the United States. The letter said, “The provision is also preventing the United States from negotiating an agreement on U.S. beef exports to China, impedes restoring pork exports to China, and threatens existing poultry exports to China.” The Senate-passed appropriations bill would allow USDA to conduct risk assessments of Chinese plants wanting to export cooked poultry products to the United States. This will be a major issue for the House-Senate conference committee.

Agricultural Appropriations Conference — The House-Senate Conference Committee is expected to meet soon to work out the differences between the House and Senate passed 2010 fiscal year agricultural appropriations bills. Key issues to be resolved include animal identification (House provides zero funding and the Senate provides partial funding), importation of cooked Chinese poultry, and dairy support (Senate provides $350 million for dairy aid).

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.