For the Week Ending June 4, 2021

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After 31 years of distinguished service with NPPC, including the last 20 as CEO, Neil Dierks has announced his plan to retire from NPPC by the end of the year. “I have truly enjoyed my service as CEO of NPPC,” said Dierks. “The chance to interface with producers and others in the pork industry and beyond and to work with producer leaders and the talented NPPC staff has been the highlight of my career.” The NPPC Board of Directors has initiated a search for a new CEO, forming a search committee made up of producer leaders and retaining Korn Ferry to manage the process. Dierks will remain in his role as CEO until the search process is completed and will serve as a strategic counselor during a transition period. “Over the last 40 years, Neil has made countless, lasting contributions to the U.S. pork industry and established NPPC as a leading national advocacy organization and the global voice of the U.S. pork industry,” said Jen Sorenson, NPPC president and communications director with Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “He announces his plan to retire from NPPC at a time when the organization is in a stronger position than ever before to fulfill its advocacy mission.” NPPC CEO search inquiries should be directed to Becky Graham at Korn Ferry ( 

Congressional lawmakers are spearheading two letters to the administration, urgently requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) appeal a recent federal district court ruling that, left unchallenged, will cause tremendous financial harm to American hog farmers starting at the end of this month, NPPC announced on Thursday. The federal court’s decision—which takes effect on June 29—struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. Unless halted, the ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers, according to an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dr. Dermot Hayes.  “We thank the lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), for their support in recognizing the damaging ramifications this court ruling will have on hog farmers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “We urge other lawmakers to join the growing calls for USDA and the DOJ to quickly intervene, preventing this carnage to hog farmers,” she added. For U.S. pork producer testimony about the impact of the court’s decision on their farm operations, please click here

In a letter to President Biden this week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) said he had “serious concerns” about the possible elimination of the “stepped up basis” allowances from the tax code to help pay for the administration’s “American Families Plan” proposal. The “stepped up basis is a critical tool, enabling family farming operations to continue from generation to generation. The potential for capital gains to be imposed on heirs at death of the landowner would impose a significant financial burden on these operations,” Scott wrote. Last month, USDA clarified that Biden’s policy proposal specifically exempts farm operations from this new capital gains tax, as long as the farm remains family owned and operated. NPPC opposes elimination of the “stepped up basis,” as it would significantly reduce the appeal of farming as a means of passing livelihood generation to generation. 

The UK on Wednesday was given the green light to begin the process of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The UK formally applied to join CPTPP in February. “CPTTP membership is a huge opportunity for Britain. It will help shift our economic center of gravity away from Europe towards faster-growing parts of the world, and deepen our access to massive consumer markets in the Asia-Pacific,” said UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss. The CPTPP includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, some of the world’s largest pork-consuming nations. The UK government plans to publish its outline approach, scoping assessment and consultation response before negotiations start in the coming weeks, Truss noted. One of NPPC’s top trade priorities is for the U.S to re-join CPTPP, which would provide significant, new market opportunities for U.S. exporters. In related news, the UK announced this week that it is seeking to strike a trade agreement with Australia by mid-June. The two countries have been involved in ongoing talks since the fifth negotiating round began on May 4. 

This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that employers can require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The policy, published on the EEOC’s COVID-19 page, says vaccines can be required if an employer can demonstrate that unvaccinated employees pose a “direct threat” to others in the workplace, defining the threat as a “significant risk of substantial harm that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.” However, as the commission explained, ADA and Title VII general reasonable accommodation requirements may still apply and those who refuse vaccination due to a disability or religious belief may still request reasonable accommodations, including masking, social distancing, and staggered shifts. Importantly, employees may not justify their refusal of a vaccine by referencing personal political or philosophical beliefs. Employers who opt for a vaccine requirement should consult their state’s anti-discrimination statute for information about what additional protections may apply. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also expected to provide further guidance on employer-mandated vaccines. For more information on the EEOC decision, click here. For the EEOC’s informal discussion paper on religious accommodations, click here

This week, NPPC added Dr. Marie Bucko to its Washington, D.C., office. Bucko, who started this week as science and technology advisor, most recently received her Master’s of Science in Food Safety from Michigan States College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to becoming a veterinarian, she served in the Food and Drug Administration’s Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program as a science policy analyst. She joins NPPC’s science and technology division, led by NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and NPPC Science and Technology Legal Counsel Andrew Bailey. NPPC is excited to welcome Marie to the team.  

On June 9-11, NPPC will host World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork industry-specific trade show that brings together pork producers and industry professionals for three days of education, innovation and networking. The event will be held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. For more information or to register, visit here