For the Week Ending September 2, 2022

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More Funds Available for Meat, Poultry Processing Improvements
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) this week announced an additional $21.9 million for 111 projects through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program, bringing total funding to $54.6 million. MPIRG awards this year have funded projects in 37 states. The program helps meat and poultry processors make facility improvements and expand their business in an effort to strengthen the nation’s food supply chain.

Such facility improvements and expansions let processors obtain a Federal Grant of Inspection or qualify for a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program, both of which allow meat and poultry processors to ship products across state lines, develop new markets, increase capacity, and better meet consumer and producer demands.

AMS also is encouraging processors in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives to request assistance through the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program, which connects participants to a nationwide network of resources and expertise.

NPPC supports USDA’s efforts to expand packing capacity and improve processing facilities, which would create greater demand for U.S. hogs. (For more information on MPIRG, click here.)

New Contract Between Freight Railroads, Unions Could Avert Strike
With a looming nationwide strike that would further exacerbate supply chain issues for a host of products (including pork), unions representing about 10% of the nation’s 115,000 freight rail workers this week tentatively accepted a labor agreement from the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents the five U.S. Class I freight railroads — BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

The five-year contract 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.

The 10 unions representing the other 100,000 rail workers have yet to reach agreement on a new contract and could go on strike, starting Sept. 16.

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

USDA: Removal of Non-tariff Barriers Would Boost Ag Imports to China
A study from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) indicates China would significantly increase imports of several agricultural commodities, including pork, if it eliminated its non-tariff barriers to imports.

ERS economists looked at the price differential between domestic and imported pork, beef, corn, and wheat — China’s top agricultural imports and the ones with the largest gap between domestic and international prices.

The price of imported pork in China, for example, was 213% higher than domestic pork in the 2020 base year, indicating significant limitations on imports. Eliminating non-tariff barriers, such as its ban on pork from hogs given the feed additive ractopamine, could boost imports by 117% in the short run and by more than 400% in the long run, the economists estimated. The study also found that even using smaller price differentials from more “typical” years — ones not affected by African swine fever and COVID-19, for example — suggested double-digit increases in imports of U.S. pork to China.

While the Asian nation imported more than $157 billion of agricultural products in 2020, including more than $35 billion from the United States, “strong demand and wide differentials between the prices of commodities in China and imported commodities signal that China could import more,” the economists concluded.

NPPC has been urging China to eliminate retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, pointing out that pork producers have lost $1 billion, or $8 per hog, because of them. The organization also wants non-tariff barriers removed, noting that unrestricted access to the Chinese market would increase U.S. pork exports by more than $24 billion, reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly 6% and generating 184,000 new U.S. jobs over a decade, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. (Click here to read the ERS study.)

Swine Vets Get Hands-On in Puerto Rico
NPPC’s Swine Veterinarian Public Policy Advocacy Program traveled to Puerto Rico last week to get a first-hand look at what is being done on the island to keep the U.S. safe from ASF. SVPAP members and NPPC staff met with numerous teams from USDA APHIS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including leadership and on-the-ground personnel with the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, CBP Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program, and APHIS Wildlife Services, Veterinary Services, and Plant Protection and Quarantine. The group also toured the APHIS laboratory in Dorado, feral hog trapping sites, the passenger and cargo inspection areas of the San Juan ferry terminal, and the USDA Preclearance facilities at the San Juan airport.


NPPC Fall Legislative Fly-in Sept. 14-15
NPPC’s fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., is set for Sept. 14-15. More than 100 pork producers from around the country are expected to attend the biannual fly-in to meet with their members of Congress to discuss various issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry.

Pork producers interested in attending should contact NPPC — 515-278-8012 — or their state pork association.

The Fall 2022 Legislative Action Conference is sponsored by Merck Animal Health.