NPPC testifies on 'GIPSA' rule, TPP, FMD vaccine bank

The significant benefits that would accrue to the U.S. pork industry from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would be wiped out if the Obama administration implements pending rules related to the buying and selling of livestock, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) last week told Senate and House agriculture committees.

Pork producers are very concerned about the so-called GIPSA Rule, testified NPPC board member David Herring, a producer from North Carolina, and past president Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Iowa, in separate hearings, pointing out that the increased exports and jobs created from the TPP will be negated if the rule is implemented.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is reproposing parts of the GIPSA Rule, which first was proposed in 2010 to implement provisions included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The regulations, however, went well beyond the Farm Bill provisions and would have had a significant negative effect on the livestock industry, according to analyses. A November 2010 Informa Economics study of the rule found it would have cost the pork industry more than $330 million annually.

Tens of thousands of comments, including 16,000 from pork producers, were filed in opposition to the rule, and Congress several times included riders in USDA's annual funding bill to prevent it from finalizing the regulation. But no rider was included in USDA's fiscal 2016 bill, and USDA earlier this year indicated it would move forward with new GIPSA rules.

On the TPP Agreement, Herring told the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Hill told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry that NPPC strongly supports the Asia-Pacific trade deal, pointing out that its benefits will exceed all past U.S. free trade agreements and that it represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. pork producers and for the entire U.S. economy. The TPP, negotiations on which were initiated in late 2008 and concluded last October, is a regional trade agreement that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which combined have more than 800 million consumers and account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

Herring and Hill also addressed a potential challenge for pork producers: an outbreak in the United States of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). They called on Congress to appropriate funds to set up an FMD vaccine bank to deal with an outbreak, which would close U.S. export markets. (Click here to read NPPC's written testimony.)