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Sonny Perdue | USDA photo
on January 31, 2018

At IPPE, USDA chief invites collaboration on regulations

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke about his agency’s view on regulatory reform and ongoing negotiations surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to be a partner with the U.S. poultry industry to create a more level regulatory playing field, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke on January 31, 2017, as part of the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. Perdue spoke for about a half hour as part of the annual Poultry Market Intelligence Forum, and he touched on topics including regulation, trade, tax reform, infrastructure, biosecurity and interagency cooperation.

Perdue, formerly the governor of Georgia, called the domestic poultry industry a powerhouse and a bright spot in American productivity. It maintains a position of global leadership as evidenced by the annual IPPE conference, he said. The key takeaway, he told members of the audience, was that the USDA wants to partner with the industry to improve the quality and competitiveness of American poultry both at home and abroad.

Regulatory review

Keeping with President Donald Trump’s mission to remove two existing regulations while establishing new regulations, Perdue said his USDA is looking to hear from poultry producers about which regulations they think are overly burdensome on their industry. So far, he said, the year-old administration is cutting 22 regulations for every new regulation.

Perdue said his view — and the administration’s view — is that government should serve as a partner with business to create a fertile field for businesses to do what they do best. Regulations are necessary, but they should exist to create a fair and level playing field between the consumers and the producers.

He said the USDA is conducting a regulatory review to see how the agency can review and repeal what he called the productivity blanket covering the industry. He invited producers in the audience to contact the agency and comment on specific regulations they think are overly burdensome.

Furthermore, when looking at regulations, the agency wants to prioritize scientific, fact-based research over what he called political science that may be motivated by forces seeking to undermine animal agriculture. He spoke about this while referencing stricter organic livestock rules established by the previous administration that, for now, are being delayed from implementation.

NAFTA negotiations

Along with speaking about regulatory issues, the USDA chief frequently mentioned ongoing negotiations surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Perdue said the Trump Administration’s goal is to create a modernized free and fair-trade focused NAFTA. He said it’s possible to get there, but all parties must come to the table. Canada, specifically, cannot continue to block U.S. poultry and dairy in a fair free-trade environment, he said.

That said, Perdue said he hopes that a good NAFTA negotiation can be completed soon. Canada and Mexico are key trading partners, he said, and they are beneficial for U.S. agriculture. However, the president understands that both countries have mined and utilized the U.S.’s strong consumption economy to the detriment of the country’s wealth and productivity by the virtue of trade deficits, particularly in manufacturing.

“I’m convinced that we can move to a sound, modern NAFTA system that we can live with and our partners can live with,” Perdue said. “It’s, frankly, too important for all of us not to continue to do that.”

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