READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 15th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 15th

Farm Bill May Have Enough Votes in House for Passage

The farm bill may have enough votes in the House of Representatives for passage. Politico reports that as the bill is expected to be brought to the House floor this week for consideration, some senior Republicans think House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway has the votes to pass the bill. That comes as Democrats in the House have been urged to vote against the legislation by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Democrats remain opposed to the stricter work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program as part of the Republican-drafted farm bill. The bill must first pass through the House Rules Committee which will be considering some 100 amendments to the farm bill. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday evening. Conaway met with President Trump last week, and Conaway says the President “supports his efforts,” despite some concern that the President would veto the bill, titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

Trump Deal on China’s ZTE May Reduce Ag Tariff’s

A possible agreement between President Trump and China that would relax penalties on a Chinese telecom company could ease the agriculture tariff threats. Trump is talking with China to ease restrictions on ZTE, a smartphone company that shut down major operating activities last week after Trump’s seven-year export ban stemming from trade violations. A source close to the talks says a “mini-deal is in sight” that would give China relief for ZTE, and return to “status quo” for U.S. agriculture, according to the Hagstrom Report. China has threatened tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans and pork, and has slowed the importation of U.S. ag products by inspecting each export container. The threats stem from Trump’s steel and aluminum import tariff.

Starling Moves to USDA

In announcing leadership for Department of Agriculture agencies last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also announced the movement of Ray Starling from the White House to USDA. Agri-Pulse reports that Starling, who has served as a special assistant to the president for agriculture, will now serve as Secretary Perdue’s chief of staff. Starling will replace Heidi Green who is returning home to Georgia. Before joining the White House, Starling served as chief of staff for U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina. The news came the same day that Secretary Perdue announced new leadership for the Farm Service Agency and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Former Missouri Agriculture Director and state FSA Director Richard Fordyce was appointed to the lead the Farm Service Agency, while Carmen Rottenberg was appointed to lead the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Canada, China, Talking Trade

Canada and China are seeking a stronger trade relationship. The two countries have agreed to increase collaboration on agriculture, including expanding market access. The move is key to a trade target by Canada to grow global agriculture and food exports to $75 billion by 2025, according to Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay. Officials from Canada, including MacAulay, are in China this week for a mission to showcase Canada’s agricultural products. Canada is meeting with Chinese companies and participating in discussions on cooperation between the two countries and to advocate for expanded market access for Canadian pork, beef and canola. MacAulay says the Chinese market offers “significant opportunities for Canadian agricultural producers and processors.” The trip comes as U.S. agriculture is facing a glut of tariffs from China stemming from a trade dispute if President Trump cannot strike a deal to keep China from implementing the tariffs.

USDA Proposes Rule to Eliminate Redundant Hog Carcass Cleaning Regulation

The Department of Agriculture last week proposed to amend federal meat inspection regulations to repeal what USDA calls a redundant regulatory requirement for hog slaughter establishments. The Food Safety and Inspection Service says the proposed rule would remove a redundant requirement that requires hog slaughter establishments to clean hog carcasses before cutting. Establishments are required to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system, or HACCP, that identifies potential biological, chemical or physical hazards, and the controls to prevent, reduce or eliminate those hazards at specific points in the process. Because establishments are required to operate under those regulations and apply HACCP principles, USDA says the command-and-control regulatory requirement is no longer necessary to ensure food safety. Carmen Rottenberg of FSIS says removing the regulations will “continue to be” the focus of FSIS as the agency seeks to streamline regulations.

Smithfield Launches Investigation Into Alleged Abuse

Smithfield Foods has launched a third-party investigation into a North Carolina farm where animal rights activists are claiming abuse is taking place. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that Direct Action Everywhere claims in a new report completed after what it says was an eight-month investigation at the facility that pregnant sows continue to be confined in “torturous” gestation stalls. The report comes despite Smithfield saying that it completed its ten-year transition to open sow housing at all of its sow farms worldwide at the end of 2017. In a statement, Smithfield says the animal rights group ignored the group housed barns on the farm that “they unlawfully broke into” in order to deliberately mislead viewers. A Smithfield official further says that the group claiming to be animal care advocates compromised the health and well-being of the pigs when they “trespassed onto farms, violated our strict biosecurity policy that prevents the spread of disease, and stole our animals.” The group claims to have “rescued” two piglets from a Smithfield farm in Utah.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service