Zoetis Influence Feed – December 2017
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By a wide margin, Thanksgiving was the most-discussed topic during the latter half of November. Certain themes emerged as many in the food and agriculture community weighed in during the lead up to the holiday.
- Meatingplace interviewed (login required) National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger about the turkey market: “Highly pathogenic avian influenza [in 2015] was a long-term market-distorting event. … You sense that the industry feels like it has a good handle on where it needs to go, but how quickly it is going to be reflected in the prices we don’t know.”
- American Farm Bureau Federation discussed the low price of Thanksgiving dinner this year. Director of Market Intelligence John Newton, PhD, commented, “Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year.”
- NPR: The Salt profiled a chef battling food waste with Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Food Safety News reminded readers to practice, fittingly, food safety during the holidays — both while travelling and in the kitchen.
- Vox addressed the difficulties of hosting Thanksgiving dinner with a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions.
2. NAFTA Round 5:
Round 5 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations closed Nov. 21, with frustration and measured optimism. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated, “While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernise NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway.”
Meanwhile, National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern told Politico, “I’m not jumping over the moon yet, but I’m better than I have been in the past.”
During the fifth round, 18 senators wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, requesting an economic analysis of the potential effects of dropping NAFTA on the crop and agriculture community: “We must continue to move the global presence of U.S. agricultural products forward, not backward.” The next round of negotiations is scheduled for January.
3. Tax Reform:
As both chambers of Congress moved to overhaul the tax code in November, agriculture industry groups commented on behalf of their constituents. Politico Morning Agriculture provided a synopsis of farm income-related changes in the House of Representatives’ proposal, which passed a vote Nov. 16 but awaits its Senate counterpart. Pamela Bailey of Grocery Manufacturers Association and Zippy Duvall of American Farm Bureau Federation voiced support for the House’s tax plan.
However, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner opposed the bill: “The House tax reform package takes money away from farmers at a time when they are suffering from extremely low commodity prices. Rural America strongly supports a pro-growth tax policy, but the proposal to eliminate Section 199 will have the exact opposite effect.” Additionally, Alan Bjerga of Bloomberg reported that 2018 Farm Bill funding could be hampered by the deficit incurred by tax reform.