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 told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.
“Pork producers are very concerned about the so-called GIPSA Rule,” said NPPC past president Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Iowa who testified before the agriculture panel. “The livestock industry will be fundamentally and negatively changed, and the increased exports and jobs created from 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 indicate it would move forward with new GIPSA rules.
On the TPP Agreement, Hill told the committee 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.
“The agreement has become the de facto global trade vehicle, and other countries in the region already are lining up to get into it,” testified Hill. “The United States cannot afford either economically or geopolitically to walk away from the fastest growing region in the world. Congress must pass the TPP, and it must do so soon.”
Hill also addressed a potential challenge to pork producers: an outbreak in the United States of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). He 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.