Producers Propound On Pork Priorities

September 13, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 13, 2018 – About 100 pork producers and pork industry leaders gathered here this week for the fall legislative conference of the National Pork Producers Council. The biannual fly-in gives producers an opportunity to lobby their members of Congress on important industry issues.

During dozens of visits Wednesday, producers discussed with their senators, representatives and their staff NPPC’s top priorities, including the need for a resolution to ongoing trade disputes, funding for a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, visa reform to address a farm labor shortage and proper regulatory oversight of laboratory-produced cultured protein and gene editing in livestock production. (Click here for more information on NPPC’s Pork Priorities.)

“Our No. 1 request is ending trade disputes that have so far cost producers as much as $2 billion,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “But our other issues are just as important; positive action on them would go a long way to assuaging pork producers’ collective anxiety from the trade disputes. The fly-in let producers communicate that to Congress.”

On the FMD vaccine bank, producers asked their lawmakers to include in the Farm Bill now being finalized by a Senate-House conference committee funding of $250 million annually for the five years of the Farm Bill. That would fund not only the vaccine bank but the network of laboratories that conduct disease diagnostics and block grants for states’ disease prevention efforts.

Producers urged their senators and representatives to support legislation that would expand or replace the existing H-2A seasonal visa to allow agricultural employers to hire year-round foreign workers. Many parts of rural America are dealing with severe labor shortages.

Lawmakers also were asked to weigh in on giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rather than the Food and Drug Administration, regulatory oversight of laboratory-produced cultured protein and gene editing of livestock.

The fly-in was abbreviated because of impending weather from Hurricane Florence affecting the east coast. In fact, NPPC President-elect David Herring and board member Kraig Westerbeek, both from North Carolina, stayed home to prepare for the storm, which is expected to dump a significant amount of rain on the state.

“Kraig and I have been doing things to protect our farms, our animals and our environment,” said Herring, who has operations in several eastern North Carolina counties. “That means getting animals to higher ground, making sure they have enough feed, preparing for potential power outages and managing lagoons. We take hurricane threats extremely seriously.” (Click here for more on N.C. pork’s preparations.)

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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.