For the Week Ending April 16, 2021

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NPPC held its spring Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week, with pork producers from across the country gathering virtually to address critical issues of importance, including expanding market access to Vietnam, visa reform to address a livestock agriculture labor shortage and foreign animal disease prevention. “Trade remains crucial to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry, and Vietnam represents a significant market for our producers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with affordable, high-quality pork.” During LAC, NPPC members urged lawmakers to sign a letter co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. A copy of the letter is available here. NPPC also held a media briefing on Thursday, in which Sorenson, NPPC President-Elect Terry Wolters and NPPC Vice President Scott Hays joined NPPC staff in outlining these and other top issues for U.S. pork producers. To learn more about the remaining top critical issues of importance for U.S. pork producers, click here

On Wednesday, NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation gave oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike down California’s Proposition 12 as unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause. Proposition 12, set to begin implementation on Jan. 1, 2022, imposes arbitrary animal housing standards that reach far outside of California’s borders to farms across the country, and bans the sale of pork that does not meet those arbitrary standards. California, with nearly 40 million residents, represents approximately 15 percent of the U.S. pork market. The state has a majority Latino and Asian population, both of which have long-standing cultural preferences for pork. Proposition 12 will dramatically reduce the supply of pork for Californians, driving up prices for consumers and disproportionately affecting low-income households. As NPPC Assistant Vice President and General Counsel Michael Formica told DTN this week, Proposition 12 “is a clear regulatory overreach and a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.” NPPC anticipates a court ruling by mid-summer. Learn more here.

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) spoke Thursday to NPPC members during their spring Legislative Action Conference (LAC), sharing her support for top U.S. pork producer priorities, including expanded export market opportunities, agriculture worker visa program reform and foreign animal disease prevention. “Over the past several years, pork producers in Minnesota and across the country have worked tirelessly to overcome adversity – persevering through a pandemic, economic crisis, trade uncertainty, workforce challenges and so much more,” she said. “I was thrilled to have an opportunity to meet with members of the National Pork Producers Council today to discuss how I can continue advocating for policies that prioritize and benefit Minnesota’s growers and producers in the 117th Congress.” NPPC President Elect Terry Wolters, a hog farmer from Pipestone, Minn., thanked the lawmaker for her assistance throughout the COVID pandemic to ensure essential U.S. pork producers were able to maintain the continuity of the pork supply chain. To learn more about the congresswoman’s remarks, click here.  

U.S. pork production is a year-round effort, requiring a hardworking and dedicated workforce on our farms and in processing plants. “Unfortunately, we are suffering from a significant labor shortage that, if not addressed, will constrain pork production and lead to serious challenges in our food supply chain, including increased consumer prices and food insecurity,” NPPC President-Elect Terry Wolters, a hog farmer from Pipestone, Minn., explained in an opinion piece published on Monday in Agri Pulse. “This isn’t an isolated case affecting a handful of farms and processing plants; this is an industry-wide shortage that needs to be quickly addressed,” he added. Meaningful labor reform was one of NPPC’s top priorities during this week’s Legislative Action Conference. Pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near our hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the U.S. pork industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. Read the full opinion piece here.

By a 53-45 vote on Wednesday, the Senate approved the nomination of Brenda Mallory to be chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). However, the Senate still has not scheduled a vote on Janet McCabe to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Meantime, President Biden on Wednesday nominated Radhika Fox to be assistant administrator for Water, a position she currently serves on an acting basis. Prior to joining EPA, she served as CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance.