NPPC Now Party to ‘Pork. The Other White Meat’ Lawsuit
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit granted NPPC’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) against the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the sale of the Pork.
The Other White Meat trademarks. The win for NPPC comes two weeks after USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) decided that, based on its review of the value of four trademarks the National Pork Board purchased from NPPC, it would continue toapprove the Pork Board’s annual payments for the trademarks. NPPC sold the trademarks to the Pork Board in 2006 for about $35 million.
NPPC financed the purchase over 20 years, making the Pork Board’s annual payment $3 million. The sale was an arms-length transaction with a lengthy negotiation in which both parties were represented by legal counsel, and USDA, which oversees the federal Pork Checkoff program administered by the Pork Board, approved the purchase. In 2012, HSUS, a lone Iowa farmer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed suit against USDA, seeking to have the sale rescinded.
The U.S. District Court dismissed the suit for lack of standing, but a federal appeals court in August 2015 reinstated it. Subsequently, USDA agreed to review the purchase, including conducting a valuation of the trademarks. In a frequently-asked-questions document on its website, AMS said the value of the four trademarks is between $113 million and $132 million. HSUS is pressing forward with its lawsuit despite the trademarks today being worth nearly four times what NPPC sold them for in 2006. The animal-rights group claimed they only are worth between about $2.6 million and $17.6 million.
TTIP Tottering Toward Oblivion?
The future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement now being negotiated between the United States and the European Union is in doubt after leaked documents on the trade talks showed the sides are far apart and after French President Hollande said his country wouldn’t accept the deal as it now stands. He said France will not jeopardize “essential principles for our agriculture, for our culture …,” likely referring to the absence in the negotiations of acceptance of the EU’s precautionary principle, which rejects actions or policies that have any risk of causing harm to the public or the environment.
Last weekend in New York, U.S. and EU negotiators held their 13th round of talks on TTIP. While NPPC supports the deal, it is skeptical of progress being made on it based on the intransigence of the EU on various issues. NPPC is concerned about the many critical ideological rifts that remain on agriculture.
While the EU is willing to eliminate tariffs on nearly all goods, for example, it announced publicly it is unwilling to eliminate them on beef, poultry and pork. It also is refusing to reconsider its stance on beef hormones and the feed additive ractopamine, which is used in beef and pork production. NPPC wants in TTIP the same deal it has gotten in the 20 other free trade agreements the United States has concluded and in the TPP, which was recently finalized: elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork exports.
Aregetina’s Openness to Trade Could Bode Well for U.S. Pork
NPPC hopes recent remarks from Martín Lousteau, Argentina’s ambassador to the United States, about the Latin American trade bloc MERCOSUR – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela – being more open to a trade agreement with the European Union will prompt action from the Obama administration on liberalizing trade with the South American nation.
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and President Obama talked about the topic when they met in late March, with the pro-trade Macri, indicating his country could eventually sign a free trade agreement with the United States, and Obama pointing out that the two countries could more immediately address trade issues through a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
(TIFA provides a structure for dialogue on trade and investment issues between the United States and countries with which the United States does not currently have An FTA.) NPPC continues to look for opportunities to expand exports in Latin America, and, among the non-FTA partner nations there, Argentina presents the best opportunity for expanding U.S. pork exports. NPPC already has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in negotiating an export certificate with Argentina that would open its market to more U.S. pork.
NPPC Participates in U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council Meeting
NPPC this week participated in the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council Stakeholder meeting at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Canada and the United States released a Joint Forward Plan for regulatory cooperation in the fall of 2014. That plan called for bilateral senior level discussions on regulatory cooperation. The meeting provided a venue for senior regulators and stakeholders to discuss areas of opportunity over the short-medium term. Canadian and U.S. senior regulatory officials sought stakeholder views, including those of NPPC, on regulated sectors and related opportunities for efforts between regulators.
Sikes Joins NPPC Government Relations Staff
NPPC has hired for its government relations team Danielle Sikes as manager of congressional relations. Sikes, who will be in NPPC’s Washington, D.C., office and report to Bill Davis, senior director of government relations, begins her duties May 10. She comes to the organization from the office of Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, where she was a legislative assistant, covering agriculture, financial services, foreign affairs and trade issues. Sikes earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Fullerton.