For the Week Ending Aug. 5, 2022

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Coalition Calls for Ag Labor Reform
As part of the Ag Workforce coalition, NPPC and 21 state affiliates signed a letter urging Senate leadership to find a path forward on ag workforce issues. While progress is being made toward a workable solution for expansion and reform of the H2-A visa program, many hurdles remain.

The groups wrote, “The domestic workforce shortage remains one of the greatest challenges impacting our farmers today.” This challenge undermines a critical economic sector that in recent years has driven employment and wage growth faster than the overall economy and is key to prosperity in rural America.

To bridge the gap in domestic labor availability, NPPC supports visa system reform that provides agricultural employers with sustained access to year-round labor and a pathway to legal status for those with agricultural experience already in the United States. H-2A expansion to year-round labor is clearly needed to ensure that U.S. livestock agriculture can compete globally and continue to provide safe and affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide. NPPC also supports inclusion of packing plant work as agricultural labor.

Dr. Ashley Johnson Named NPPC Director of Food Policy
Dr. Ashley Johnson is NPPC’s new director of food policy, focusing on in-plant and post-harvest issues. She began her duties Monday, working out of the Washington, D.C., public-policy office, and reporting to NPPC Science and Technology Legal Counsel Andrew Bailey.

Johnson comes to NPPC from Zoetis, where she was a technical service veterinarian for more than five years. Among many duties, she worked with the animal health company’s public affairs department to disseminate information to its pork team and customers on legislation and regulatory actions that could affect the pork industry.

Prior to that, Johnson was staff veterinarian for PFFJ (Pigs for Farmer John), where she was responsible for supporting herd health programs for the farrow-to-finish system, which had 60,000 sows in four states. (While she was there, PFFJ was owned by Hormel Foods, then sold to Smithfield Foods.) Additionally, Johnson had externships with Murphy-Brown, the swine production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Johnson earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinarian Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in animal and veterinarian science from Clemson University. She did post-doctoral work with the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she served as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome area regional control coordinator for Johnston and Moore counties in North Carolina.


Capital Update on Modified Schedule as Congress Takes Break
Congress began a month-long recess today, so Capital Update will be issued on an as-needed basis over the following five Fridays. It will resume regular publication the Friday following Labor Day.

NPPC Fall Legislative Fly-in Set
NPPC’s fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., will take place Sept. 14-15. The biannual fly-in draws more than 100 pork producers from around the country to meet with their members of Congress to discuss various issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry.

The Capitol Hill-famous “BaconFest” will return after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions. Pork producers interested in attending should contact NPPC – 515-278-8012 – or their state pork association.