Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the U.S. should not sit back and let China ban pork imports from Iowa and other states over the H1N1 virus. Harkin says he’s been in contact with the trade representative’s office and the ag secretary about the issue – and Harkin insists the U.S. has to take China to task for this. He says the World Health Organization has not said countries could be allowed to cut off pork imports.
Harkin, a Democrat, says there’s no reason to ban pork imports. "Scientifically, and the Chinese know this as well as anyone, you cannot get H1N1 or anything like that from eating pork — it’s impossible," Harkin says, "So they’re cutting it down as a trade barrier, and that should be allowed. So we have to be very strong against China and a few other countries that are using this as an excuse."
Harkin argues the U.S. should penalize China if they don’t drop their ban on pork imports. "If they continue to persist in this, then we ought to think about ways of cutting off some of their exports to us. I hate to get involved in a trade war, but you can’t let them get by with this," Harkin says.
Pork prices have dropped with the virus outbreak, and Harkin says federal officials can look at buying more pork for the military to help compensate for the drop. Or he says they could look at loan guarantees from producers to get them through the down period.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, the senate panel which has jurisdiction over trade issues. Grassley is blunt in his assessment of why the Chinese have blocked pork imports."They’re stupid," Grassley says. "They think that you eat meat, that you can contact swine flu from pigs. There’s no evidence whatsoever over decades that that’s the case, so they need to be educated."
Grassley, like Harkin, argues top U.S. officials need to "jump on this immediately," as the decision violates China’s World Trade Organization obligations.
China is banning pork imports from Iowa and other U.S. states where there are confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus.Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, uses the term "unjustified" to describe China’s decision to ban imports of U.S. pork from the U.S.
"I am urging the Obama Administration to work with the Chinese government to ensure that this ban is reversed immediately," Braley says. "This unfair import restriction which China is unfortunately blaming on the H1N1 flu is based on their misinterpretation of the science…and is unnecessarily harming pork producers…across the state of Iowa."
Braley is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over public health issues.
The E.P.A. released proposed rules this week that could hurt another key ag product from Iowa. The rules seeking to limit greenhouse gases could hurt ethanol and biodiesel production. Harkin says he won’t support the rule unless the evidence is there that it will help.
Harkin says if they E.P.A. is going to look at greenhouse gas emissions cycles, then he wants to see the science behind it, and how accurate the science can be. Some say the effort to cut greenhouse gases shouldn’t be a part of fuel standards, but Harkin doesn’t agree.
Harkin isn’t coming out against any regulation of greenhouse gases, as he says something has to be done about them, but he says it has to be done in a "solid scientific manner." The E.P.A. must take public input on the proposed rule before it will move ahead.