For the Week Ending June 10, 2022

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NPPC, Farm Bureau File Prop. 12 Brief With Supreme Court

NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) today filed their initial brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in their case against California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of pork not produced according to the state’s production standards. The high court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case this fall. Approved in 2018, Prop. 12 prohibits the sale in California of pork from hogs born to sows raised in pens in any state or foreign country that do not comply with California’s highly prescriptive housing standards. It applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether produced there or outside the state’s borders. Nearly all pork currently produced in the United States fails to meet California’s arbitrary and unscientific standards. (Although it took effect Jan. 1, 2022, a state court delayed Prop. 12’s implementation for 180 days after final regulations for it are issued.) In their brief, NPPC and AFBF argue that Prop. 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause by being “impermissibly extraterritorial” – that is, regulating out-of-state commerce – and failing to balance state health and safety concerns against the initiative’s negative effects on interstate commerce. The agricultural organizations contend that because California imports 99.87% of its pork, the practical effect of Prop. 12 is to regulate wholly out-of-state commerce. They also point out that the law’s human health claim – that Prop. 12’s requirements promote food safety – is “so patently false that California has declined to defend it.” The Supreme Court is hearing the case on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which last July upheld a lower court ruling against the NPPC-AFBF lawsuit. The appeals court found that despite the organizations plausibly alleging Prop. 12 “will have dramatic upstream effects and require pervasive changes to the pork industry nationwide,” 9th Circuit precedent didn’t allow the case to continue. That precedent, however, runs counter to numerous Supreme Court decisions and is in conflict with nearly every other federal circuit court. On the evening of June 9, the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued an additional set of revisions to its proposed rules implementing Proposition 12. These revisions, which are open for public comment for 15 days, can be viewed here.

NPPC Rebranding Sets Tone For Moving Pork Industry Forward

With direction from CEO Bryan Humphreys and guided by a long-range strategic plan and additional financial resources, NPPC this week at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, unveiled a new brand identity to drive momentum in shaping the future for the next generation of pork producers and their businesses. NPPC will work to ensure that producers’ common goals become reality: operate to the high standards producers set, advance sustainability and animal health, and expand global markets. With the food production landscape changing and the increasing complexity of issues facing U.S. pork producers, a task force of industry leaders spanning the pork supply chain developed a five-year strategic plan to ensure focus on NPPC investors’ top priorities. Those priorities include trade, foreign animal disease, labor, and producers’ freedom to operate. Under Humphreys, who succeeded long-time CEO Neil Dierks at the end of 2021, and newly elected board officers, NPPC is creating a pathway for change, positioning the organization to adapt to new dynamics and address challenges in modern ways. Collaboration – across the pork industry, the agriculture sector, and the entire food chain – will be imperative to influence change on critical issues, the organization said. NPPC’s new branding sets the tone for the organization moving forward, with a new logo that reinforces NPPC’s mission as the unified global voice of the U.S. pork industry in advocating and taking action in Washington, DC, across the country, and in the global marketplace. Additionally, the decision to increase funding through NPPC’s Strategic Investment Program (SIP) will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and aid in strengthening NPPC’s programming and communications priorities with members. NPPC delegates at the organization’s March 2022 annual business meeting voted to increase the SIP rate to 15 cents from 10 cents per $100 of value for each hog sold. (Read NPPC’s press release here.)

House To Vote On Senate Shipping Reform Bill This Month

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House will vote in June on the Senate’s version of the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act” (OSRA), which addresses longstanding supply chain issues and shipping port disruptions. Friday, NPPC joined more than 90 agriculture and business organizations in signing a letter to Senate and House leaders, urging Congress to approve a final bill and send it to President Biden for his signature. The Senate approved its version of the OSRA in late March; the House passed its bill in December. U.S. exporters and importers have for several years been dealing with port problems, including aging infrastructure, and shipping issues, such as excessive detention and demurrage fees charged to exporters and importers for use of marine terminal space and shipping containers. NPPC is asking pork producers to urge their representatives to vote in favor of the OSRA legislation (S. 3580). Lawmakers may be reached through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121.

Labor Department To Draft New Independent Contractor Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this week announced it will draft a new rule defining the test for determining if workers should be considered independent contractors or employees. The regulation is a response to a court decision against the Biden administration’s effort to withdraw a Trump-era rule that took a broad view of what constitutes an independent contractor. (A worker’s status determines whether an employer must pay into the Social Security and worker’s compensation systems and, in some states, follow wage and hour laws.) Although the DOL has not yet offered a proposal, NPPC, other agriculture groups — many farmers use independent contractors for transportation, sanitation, manure logistics, and other roles — and business organizations are concerned that the administration may implement the so-called ABC test — or a modified version it — that was adopted by California. That test says a worker is an independent contractor only if she or he meets all three of the following criteria:
– The worker is free from control or direction by the hiring entity in performing work.
– The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
– The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
If implemented, the ABC test would significantly reduce the number of workers qualifying as independent contractors.

Panel Discusses Pork Industry Priority Issues At World Pork Expo

A panel of NPPC experts this week at World Pork Expo discussed the pork industry’s current policy priorities that are vital to producers’ livelihoods and the future success of the industry. As part of the pork industry’s long-range strategic planning process, the Pork Industry Visioning Task Force in 2021 prioritized international trade, foreign animal disease, and labor as key policy issues to address. Said panel member and NPPC President Terry Wolters, owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minnesota, “We need to lead on these issues, activating producers to tell their stories, collaborating with agricultural partners to amplify our voices, and working with policymakers and regulators to implement meaningful change.” Dr. Liz Wagstrom, NPPC’s chief veterinarian, talked about the need to focus on protecting pig health from emerging threats, pointing out that African swine fever last July was detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in more than 40 years. Advocating for a reliable workforce and addressing an ongoing labor shortage are other producer priorities, said Jack Detiveaux, NPPC manager of competition, labor, and tax. The organization supports visa reform that opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without an annual cap on the number of visas, and provides a path to legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. NPPC Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Maria C. Zieba said negotiating new and expanding existing free trade agreements is important to the U.S. pork industry’s growth. She said NPPC is urging the Biden administration to join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would create American jobs and boost pork exports to an estimated 500 million consumers. Michael Formica, NPPC’s assistant vice president and general counsel, gave an update on the organization’s legal challenge against California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of pork from hogs born to sows that do meet the state’s prescriptive housing requirements. NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation have a suit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  (Read NPPC’s press release here.)

NPPC Comments On Efficacy Of Carbadox In Pork Production

NPPC has submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety of carbadox, an animal health product used for decades in hog feed to control bacterial diseases such as Salmonella and swine dysentery. FDA was seeking input on the benefits of carbadox, as well as scientific data on its safety, including possible carcinogenic residues. NPPC participated in a public hearing on carbadox this March, urging the agency to develop a new residue test for the product rather than pull it from the market. Talking points included- enteric diseases such as Salmonella are difficult to control with vaccination or antibiotics other than carbadox, alternatives on the market are medically important antibiotics for humans and, if used in food animals, would conflict with FDA guidance and objectives, including fostering stewardship of antimicrobials in veterinary settings. NPPC also noted that should carbadox be withdrawn, it is estimated to cost to the U.S. pork industry up to $500 million in the first year, mostly due to higher levels of disease and death losses which could lead to further consolidation of the industry and force more independent producers out of business. (Click here to read NPPC’s comments.)

White House Holds ‘Summit Of The Americas’ Event

The United States this week hosted in Los Angeles the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of heads of state and government from North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. Not invited to the triennial event were Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Another notable absentee was Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who sent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard in his stead. The leaders were expected to discuss mutual topics of interest to the nations of the Western Hemisphere, including trade and migration. On the latter, the United States was expected to raise concerns about the unprecedented numbers of migrants, particularly from Central America, entering the country. On the trade front, there were reports that President Biden would offer an economic framework plan similar to the one he launched two weeks ago with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. That deal is expected to focus on supply chain issues, clean energy and climate change, infrastructure, and taxation and corruption; it will not address market access. An economic framework for the Americas likely would raise some of the same issues, as well as explore strengthening health systems to deal with future pandemics and a hemispheric food security plan. NPPC supports closer ties with Latin American and urges the administration to include market access in negotiations with the region.

World Pork Expo A Big Success

More than 10,000 visitors from 34 countries were estimated to have attended NPPC’s 34th World Pork Expo, which started Wednesday and concluded today at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The world’s largest pork industry trade show and exhibition featured 400 companies from North America and around the world, displaying agricultural and pork production-related products and services at booths, outdoor exhibits, and hospitality tents. The exhibit space, which presents the latest pork production products, services, and technologies, exceeded 300,000 square feet. Guests attended pork industry informational and educational seminars, pig races, and show pig events and participated in a host of other activities, including the World Pork Open Clay Target Championship at the New Pioneer Gun Club in Waukee, Iowa, and the World Pork Open held at the Legacy Golf Club in Norwalk, Iowa. It was estimated that the “Big Grill,” alone, served more than 10,000 pork lunches over the course of the three-day event.