For the Week Ending April 3, 2020

April 3, 2020

NPPC SHINING SPOTLIGHT ON THE NEED FOR LABOR SOLUTIONS

As part of the critical U.S. food supply infrastructure, U.S. pork producers are committed to keeping Americans and consumers around the world supplied with nutritious protein. The ongoing U.S. pork industry labor shortage on farms and in plants, now exacerbated by COVID-19, threatens to increase food prices, disrupt the pork supply chain and weaken a critical economic sector for rural America. This week, NPPC members contacted more than 1,100 lawmakers, USDA officials and other policymakers, urging the reinstatement of TN visa processing in Mexico and asking for expanded agricultural guest worker visa programs that work for livestock agriculture and harvest facilities. As NPPC President-Elect Jen Sorenson told Politico, “We’ve already been facing labor gaps….But it has become exacerbated by COVID-19 when you layer on daycare and school closures and just what the average family is going through right now — it makes it even more uncertain.” A labor shortage in our farm and plant communities means there are good jobs with solid pay and benefits available to qualified individuals. This week, NPPC launched a new social media campaign to highlight that U.S. pork is hiring and needs a larger pool of workers—whether American or foreign-born—to help ensure an uninterrupted supply of U.S. pork to consumers here at home and around the globe. NPPC will continue to work with Congress and the administration to address the labor shortfall on farms and in plants. 

NPPC URGES SBA TO ENSURE AG BUSINESSES CAN ACCESS DISASTER LOAN PROGRAM

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) joined 30 agriculture organizations this week in urging the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure agricultural business can participate in the economic disaster loan program included in the CARES Act. Earlier this week, SBA posted information on its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program website stating applicants do not qualify for loans if they are an agricultural enterprise (e.g. farm). However, the CARES Act, signed into law last month, does not specifically exclude agriculture from this program. Congress intended for all business fewer than 500 employees to participate, NPPC and the agriculture organizations wrote Wednesday to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “As part of the critical U.S. food supply infrastructure, U.S. pork producers are committed to keeping Americans and consumers around the world supplied with nutritious protein. To ensure a continued and uninterrupted supply of pork to America’s kitchens, hog farmers must have access to necessary resources, including this vital economic disaster loan program,” said NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “We urge SBA to implement this program as intended by Congress, allowing pork producers to participate and remain committed to keeping consumers supplied with nutritious protein,” he added. A copy of NPPC’s press release is here. Learn more about U.S. pork producer efforts to ensure an uninterrupted supply of pork by visiting: http://nppc.org/issues/issue/your-food-is-our-priority/

USMCA COUNTRIES MISS NOTIFICATION DEADLINE

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement won’t go into effect on June 1 as anticipated. Officials from the three countries failed to exchange letters by Wednesday to certify they each met the necessary obligations outlined in the deal. July 1 is now the earliest the deal could go into effect. Once the letters are exchanged, USMCA would go into effect “on the first day of the third month following the last notification,” according to the agreement’s rules. USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. In 2019, Canada and Mexico took in over 30 percent of the pork that was exported from the U.S. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support over 26,900 U.S. pork jobs.  

EU RATIFIES TRADE AGREEMENT WITH VIETNAM

On Monday, the European Union ratified the free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, clearing the path for it to come into force once ratified by Vietnam. According to the EU, the agreement will likely begin in early summer 2020. The FTA provides for the nearly complete elimination of customs duties between the two blocks. As the EU explained, 65 percent of duties on EU exports to Vietnam will disappear as soon as the FTA enters into force, while the remainder will be phased out gradually over a period of up to 10 years. Regarding Vietnamese exports to the EU, 71 percent of duties will disappear upon entry into force, the remainder being phased out over a period of up to seven years. The FTA will also reduce many of the existing non-tariff barriers to trade with Vietnam and open up Vietnamese services and public procurement markets to EU companies. 

NPPC CANCELS 2020 WORLD PORK EXPO

Due to COVID-19 human concerns, NPPC announced on Monday that its board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020 World Pork Expo in June. “While deeply disappointed to cancel this year’s Expo, NPPC’s board of directors unanimously agreed it was prudent to make this decision now,” said NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “By eliminating COVID 19-related uncertainty surrounding the event, we allow producers and others across the industry to focus on the essential role we play in the nation’s food supply system at this critical time.” World Pork Expo 2021 is scheduled for June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Read the full NPPC press release here