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Agricultural News

OkPork's Roy Lee Lindsey Addresses Federal Issues Pork Industry is Tracking

Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:37:30 CDT

OkPork's Roy Lee Lindsey Addresses Federal Issues Pork Industry is Tracking Increasing access to international markets is one of the top priorities of the state's pork producers. Recently leadership for the Oklahoma Pork Council traveled to Washington D.C. to visit with Oklahoma's Congressional leaders about trade opportunities. This week the House and Senate are voting on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Oklahoma Pork Council Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey said TPA is needed in negotiating trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"But in order to get that thing across the finish line, we are going to have to give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority, so that the Obama Administration can negotiate the trade deal and then Congress can either vote the deal up or down," Lindsey said.

In visiting with members of Congress, Lindsey said many are reluctant to give President Obama the authority to negotiate trade agreements. It's suspected that this will be tight vote, but he thinks the greater good for the country will prevail. Negotiations have begun on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves 12 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Lindsey said TPP has the potential to be the largest trade agreement for the U.S. He said Oklahoma has a lot to gain as the Seaboard Foods plant already ships a lot of pork to Japan with its closer proximity to the west coast.

Agriculture also continues to closely monitor the 'Waters of the United States' proposed rule. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has shown she is determined to release the final rule. Meanwhile, Congress has introduced bills to keep it from going into effect along with pulling out any funding to implement the bill.

"I think this will come to a head at some point where the Administration has to look at Congress and decide that Congress just isn't going to approve this and ultimately I think they will have to back off or withdraw the rule," Lindsey said. "Right now it's kind of a game of chicken, who's going to blink first and they're both running full speed ahead at one another over -- is this going to happen or not."

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Lindsey. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.

To be expected, the Oklahoma Pork Council has a major issue with the proposed dietary guidelines put out by the U.S. Department Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture. The guidelines basically proposes to severely limit animal protein. Lindsey said this joint advisory council has failed at its assignment.

"This was a committee with an agenda and they have expressed their agenda very plainly in recommendations that say eat less meat, that are not based on science, that completely ignore the science that was presented to them," Lindsey said.

While the nation's dietary guidelines do not affect the choices made by the individual consumer, it does effect a lot of people. Lindsey said the dietary guidelines determine what is served through the school lunch program, to those that serve in the military, and to individuals on food stamps through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

"It can have a major impact on all of our federal food programs, because they have to comply what the guidelines are, once they are adopted," Lindsey said.

In meeting with U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, Lindsey said the guidelines will be addressed and modified before the final guidelines are released. He hopes the two government agencies can come together to write common sense nutrition driven guidelines.

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) remains to be a concern for pork producers.   The World Trade Organization will likely issue a ruling in the near future. Lindsey said it's anticipated the WTO will rule against the U.S. and this cause retaliatory tariffs to be put in place by Mexico and Canada. Until then, he said its wait and see.

"Past experience says Congress tends to ignore problems until they are real problems," Lindsey said. "Rather than fixing them in advance, somebody's got to be hurting before we're going to address the issue."

Lindsey expects that pork and beef will be on that retaliatory list from Canada and from Mexico.

Lindsey will be joining Hays for the weekly "In the Field" report on KWTV News 9 in the Oklahoma City market on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.


Ron Hays interviews Roy Lee Lindsey, Oklahoma Pork Council Executive Director
right-click to download mp3


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