Capital Update – For the Week Ending October 14, 2022

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California Proposition 12 SCOTUS Oral Arguments Lowdown

Missed the live stream? Take a listen to the audio recording for a full recap.

Prefer to cut to the chase? We’ve got you covered on the “war on breakfast” (a phrase coined by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa).

Our review: “This is a historic day for American farmers. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation presented oral arguments on NPPC v. Ross before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of California Proposition 12. As we have contended since 2018, one state should not be able to regulate commerce in another state and set arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis. NPPC presented a strong case and is confident in its arguments presented to the Supreme Court Justices. We appreciate the support of the Biden Administration and look forward to the Court’s decision.”

What’s the word on the street?

ABC News: “An oral argument in the case NPPC v. Ross was scheduled for 70 minutes but stretched to nearly double that as a consequential debate played out, pitting California voters’ moral views against a critical national industry that feeds millions of Americans every year.” Check out their six-minute news segment released on Monday.

Agri-Pulse: “The justices are deciding whether the law passes muster under what’s known as the dormant Commerce Clause. Issues raised at oral arguments included whether California has a right to impose its views of what constitutes ‘moral’ behavior on the rest of the country and whether the law is justified on health and safety grounds.”

The Wall Street Journal: “Meatpacking companies and hog farmers have resisted California’s ballot measure, saying it would raise meat prices by causing hog farmers to spend millions of dollars building new barns and changing their operations. Pork suppliers say the law would create chaos in the supply chain and risk their pigs’ health.” On the other side of the aisle, “animal-welfare proponents say the crates confine sows to the degree that they can barely turn around or walk.”

USA Today: “The dispute has ramifications far deeper than the price of bacon. At a time when policies embraced by conservative states often look significantly different from those adopted by liberal ones, the question is when and how much such laws may reach beyond a state’s boundaries.”

What’s next? As the verdict is up to our Justices, the case could go back to a lower court for further review. Written draft opinions are not expected until mid to late February 2023.

Quote of the week:We’ve got the Constitution on our side, we have the facts on our side, we’ve got the desire of Americans to eat on our side. And we’ve got a country that’s struggling with outrageous food price inflation.” – Michael Formica, chief legal strategist for NPPC

Resources: For more information, we encourage you to visit our California Proposition 12 page.

U.S. Freight Railroad Workers Vote Against Recent Contract Deal

What happened? On Oct. 10, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) voted against a contract deal, which included a 24% wage increase, a limit on health care premiums and an annual bonus. BMWE is the first union to reject this agreement.

Why has an agreement not been reached? “Unions have been locked in a long-running feud with freight rail carriers over sick leave, pay and a wide-ranging efficiency plan they say will reduce staffing to unsafe levels.” Another source mentioned, workers must ask for time off months in advance, making it challenging to take sick time and schedule appointments. (Bloomberg Law)

What’s next? To avoid freight transportation disruptions, both parties will return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new deal before bringing it back to the workers for another vote.

DHS to Issue Nearly 65,000 Additional H-2B Visas for Fiscal Year 2023

What happened? On Oct. 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), announced it will be issuing nearly 65,0000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2023. This is in addition to the 66,000 visas made available each year.

Why is this important? An increase in visas opens supplementary labor for industry participants. Ranging from hospitality and tourism to landscaping and seafood processing, it addresses employers’ dependency and needs for seasonal workers, where U.S. workers are few and far between.

What do we support? A visa system reform that establishes a legal and productive workforce without placing an undue burden on employers, with a solution for undocumented workers already in the U.S.

What’s our ask? As this new announcement boosts H-2B visas (brings foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs), we ask for the expansion of the H-2A visa program (brings nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural labor) to support our industry. There should be no annual cap on the number of H-2A visas.

Resources: For more information, we encourage you to visit our agriculture labor issues page.

Celebrating Porktober

As October is National Pork Month, what better time than now to dive into your favorite pork products and learn about our industry’s significant economic contributions to local communities and those across the globe.