For the Week Ending February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009

Washington, February 13, 2009 


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued guidance to its inspectors on handling “fatigued” or “slow” hogs at packing plants. Plants may elect to have a written protocol on handling fatigued or slow hogs. The protocol should explain measures that ensure all pigs are handled humanely and include procedures for tracing fatigued pigs through the process. The protocol should ensure that the requirements are met so that all pigs receive antemortem inspection. It also should address whether slow pigs will be moved as a group to the stunning area after inspection, or if they will be stunned in a pen for slow or fatigued pigs then moved immediately to the sticking area for postmortem inspection. NPPC and its Packer-Processor Industry Council developed materials to help FSIS understand the science of fatigued pigs and how such pigs currently are handled in plants. Click here to read the FSIS guidance.


The House Agriculture Committee yesterday approved by voice vote a bill to bring greater transparency to futures markets and a sense of order to the over-the-counter market for swaps and other credit derivatives. (Derivatives – contracts that gamble on the future prices of assets – are secondary assets, such as options and futures, which derive their value from primary assets, such as currency, commodities, stocks and bonds. The current price of an asset is determined by the market demand for and supply of the asset, but its future price typically is unknown. In the future, the price may increase, decrease or remain the same. Buyers and sellers often hedge their bets against this uncertainty about future price by making a contract for future trading at a specified price.) The Derivatives Markets Transparency and Accountability Act of 2009, H.R. 977, sponsored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., would give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission primary oversight of derivatives that trade outside of traditional exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange. It would require over-the-counter derivatives to be cleared through a firm regulated by either the CFTC or, in the case of financial derivatives, the Securities and Exchange Commission. Certain transactions could be excluded, but the CFTC would still collect information on them and impose some requirements. While NPPC has no position on the Agriculture Committee bill, it supports transparency in the futures markets.


NPPC is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to resolve restrictions on U.S. pork exports recently imposed by Russia. The country implemented a series of sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions that hinder U.S. pork sales. Over the last several months, Russia delisted many U.S. pork slaughter, processing and cold storage facilities eligible for export to Russia. A total of 33 facilities are now delisted, representing 45-50 percent of U.S. pork production capacity. Thanks to a bilateral meat agreement that went into effect in 2005 and provides the United States with a country-specific quota, U.S. pork exports to Russia have exploded in recent years. In 2008, the United States exported 218,000 metric tons of pork to Russia valued at $476 million, making that nation the fourth largest export destination for U.S. pork. NPPC is working to get all facilities relisted and to eliminate all non-science based restrictions.


NPPC’s Dr. Jennifer Greiner, director of science and technology, and Laurie Hueneke, international trade specialist, and other U.S. pork industry representatives recently attended the Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare in Brussels, Belgium. The conference was organized by European Union animal-rights organizations and the European Commission. The EU took an open and aggressive stance on pressing for animal welfare standards in all bi- and multilateral agreements. Its free trade agreement with Chile includes language to develop animal welfare standards. Additionally, any animal welfare standards developed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which includes the U.S., the EU and 170 other countries, could serve as the basis for standards the EU would want included in future trade deals. The OIE, which has been considering such standards since 2002, will be developing ad hoc groups to address livestock production systems. The first two groups will focus on the dairy and broiler industries; an ad hoc group to address pork production systems is expected to be formed after a study of the dairy and broiler industries.



NPPC and the National Pork Board will hold their 2009 annual meeting March 5-7 in Dallas. For more information on the meeting, call (515) 278-8012. Media inquiries should be directed to Dave Warner at (202) 347-3600; for media registration, visit