NPPC focusing on reducing tariffs, barriers to trade


By Jeannine Otto, AgriNews (IL)

August 02, 2022


DES MOINES, Iowa — Maintaining and enhancing current export markets and working to open a few more are among the top items on the “to-do” list for Maria Zieba, vice president of international affairs for the National Pork Producers Council.


“There are plenty of opportunities as long as things are negotiated correctly,” Zieba said.


When she discussed her role at NPPC at a legislative update press conference during World Pork Expo in June, Zieba’s title was assistant vice president of international affairs.


Just a week later, Bryan Humphreys, NPPC CEO, who moderated the press conference and posed questions to Zieba and other NPPC staff, announced that Zieba was promoted to vice president of international affairs, overseeing trade advocacy efforts for the NPPC on behalf of U.S. pork producers.


“It’s never been more important to plan for our future, and we are pleased to have someone with Maria’s experience and talent to lead NPPC’s efforts to increase trade for U.S. pork products,” said Humphreys in announcing the promotion.


Zieba said the focus of the NPPC’s trade efforts focus on three areas, including expanding market access for U.S. pork, maintaining that market access once it is gained, and protecting the U.S. swine herd from any foreign animal diseases.


In 2021, the United States exported some $8.1 billion worth of pork and pork products. Pork exports represent around 30% of total U.S. pork production, according to Zieba.


“Trade is vital to the success of our industry,” she said.


One big question was answered the very day of the press conference as Katherine Tai, U.S. trade representative, announced that Doug McKalip, a senior adviser to Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, and a trade expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had been nominated as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.


McKalip is a 29-year employee of the USDA and has served in a number of positions within the USDA.


In May, Vilsack announced the nomination of Alexis Taylor, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, to the position of under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at USDA.


“We are really happy about both of those nominations and happy to see that the administration is putting such a big focus on trade and getting those positions filled. They really are key to opening new markets and making sure we have agriculture at the table during those upcoming framework discussions,” Zieba said.


Zieba said the NPPC’s efforts are focused on reduction of tariffs, as well as reducing sanitary and phytosanitary barriers on U.S. pork imports.


“Most of that is going to come through the elimination of tariffs in Southeast Asian countries. We certainly face a lot of headwinds on the tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade,” she said...