For the Week Ending September 16, 2022

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Producers Convey Pork Industry Priorities During NPPC Fly-in
NPPC held its fall Legislative Action Conference Wednesday and Thursday, with nearly 100 pork producers in Washington, D.C., meeting with their members of Congress to discuss pork industry priorities. Over the two-day event, producers asked lawmakers to:

  • Press the Biden administration to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and to negotiate an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework trade deal that addresses market access for and non-tariff barriers to U.S. products.
  • Expand the H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural workers, including packing plant employees. Currently, the visa only allows for temporary, seasonal farm laborers.
  • Pass the “Beagle Brigade Act,” authorizing a training center for dogs that can detect animal and plant diseases and pests at the country’s points of entry. Only the Senate must approve the measure; the House passed the bill earlier this year. Producers also asked that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspection program be fully funded.
  • Fund in the next farm bill the National Annual Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Veterinary Stockpile. Producers also asked for an increase in funds to help reduce the population of feral swine, which can carry foreign animal diseases.
  • Reauthorize and fund — also through the farm bill — the Market Access and the Foreign Market Development programs to promote U.S. agricultural exports and authorize a USDA catastrophic risk insurance program to help mitigate risks for pork producers.

The highlight of the biennial fly-in was Wednesday’s Capitol Hill-famous BaconFest reception, with dozens of congressional lawmakers and hundreds of staffers in attendance. Because of COVID, it was the first BaconFest since the fall 2019 legislative action conference.

At the conclusion of the conference, NPPC President Terry Wolters, President-elect Scott Hays, Vice President Lori Stevermer, and CEO Bryan Humphreys, joined by NPPC policy staff, met with reporters to discuss the NPPC-American Farm Bureau Federation challenge of California Proposition 12, which bans in the state the sale of pork that doesn’t meet California’s sow housing standards. Oral arguments in the case will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11.

For more information, visit our Proposition 12 Resources Page.

U.S. Freight Railroad Workers Get New Contract, Avoid Strike
Unions representing 115,000 freight rail workers on Thursday reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract with the country’s freight railroads, avoiding a threatened nationwide strike that would have exacerbated current U.S. supply chain problems for a host of products, including agricultural commodities.

The Agriculture Trade Coalition, of which NPPC is a member, pointed out that a labor disruption would mostly hurt perishable goods.

The new agreement covers from 2020 through 2024 and includes recommendations from a White House-appointed board – the Presidential Emergency Board – for a wage increase of 24%, a limit on health care premiums for workers, and an annual bonus for employees. Union members still must vote to ratify the agreement.

Demand for the services of freight railroads has increased recently as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, but carriers have been hard-pressed to meet it in part because of a shortage of railroad workers. The agriculture and energy sectors, in particular, have pointed out that freight transportation disruptions have caused the prices of their products to rise.

NPPC Participates in International Animal Biotech Workshop
Iowa pork producer Dr. Mike Paustian and Andrew Bailey, NPPC’s science and technology legal counsel, attended the 4th International Workshop on Regulatory Approaches for Agricultural Applications of Animal Biotechnologies held this week in São Paulo, Brazil.

Paustian and Bailey participated in panels that discussed animal breeding, the future of animal genetic biotechnologies, and building trust in animal biotech.

Organized by USDA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications and its AfriCenter, Virginia Tech University, the Agriculture and Food Systems Institute, and the Universidade de São Paulo, the workshops look at regulatory frameworks for the food and environmental safety assessment of products from animals produced using animal biotechnologies.