For the Week Ending July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

NPPC LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTING NEED FOR LABOR REFORM
On Thursday, NPPC launched a new campaign, “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers,” highlighting the vital role of foreign-born workers across the U.S. pork industry and the critical need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage. The campaign features the stories of four foreign-born workers and their employers, highlighting the essential contributions of these workers and the opportunities created by a position in the U.S. pork industry. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. “We’re proud of the diversity on our farms and across the pork production chain. For many foreign-born workers, a position in the U.S. pork industry has often created opportunity to come to the country and become an integral part of a community,” NPPC President Jen Sorenson wrote in an Agri-Pulse op ed. “Unfortunately, current visa programs fail to address the workforce needs of U.S. pork produces and other year-round livestock farmers. This isn’t an isolated case affecting a handful of farms and processing plants; this is an industry-wide shortage that needs to be quickly addressed,” she added. Learn more here

NPPC URGES ADMINISTRATION TO APPEAL LINE SPEED COURT RULING BEFORE AUG. 31 DEADLINE
A federal district court ruling striking down faster harvest facility inspection speeds allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) went into effect on Wednesday, June 30. However, the Biden administration has until the end of August to file an appeal. NPPC continues to urge the administration to appeal this damaging ruling – which will quickly lead to increased pork industry concentration and packer market leverage – and seeks waivers for the impacted plants until a longer-term solution, acceptable to all industry stakeholders, is realized. “While we are disappointed the Biden administration has not appealed the court ruling, there is still time for the government to act by appealing the decision and providing waivers that allow the six impacted plants to continue operating at NSIS line speeds until a new rule can be developed,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “NPPC continues to urge the administration to appeal before the ruling inflicts irreversible damage to small hog farmers and seismic changes to our entire sector.” For U.S. pork producer testimony about the impact of the court’s decision on their farm operations, please click here.  

HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES FY2022 AG FUNDING BILL; INCLUDES LANGUAGE ON LINE SPEED WAIVERS 
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $26.55 billion fiscal year 2022 funding bill for USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Farm Credit Administration. Among three amendments approved was one by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that would revoke harvest facility line speed waivers outlined in the amendment. The amendment will have an immediate impact only on poultry plants since no pork processing facilities received waivers during the pandemic. However, the amendment would limit USDA’s ability to issue future line speed waivers to pork processing plants. Speaking in opposition to the amendment, Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) told her fellow committee members “this amendment is based on false pretenses, and it’s a great example of fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.” As she explained, the line speed waiver process is more than 20 years old, and it can take between six months and two years to receive a waiver. “Line speeds waivers increased capacity at pork processing plants. This has an impact on the local economy. If the secretary concludes the waiver is undeserving or creating unsafe conditions, he has the authority to rescind the waivers under current law. It’s very clear we’re not doing what you intend,” she added. In related news, NPPC continues to urge the Biden administration to appeal a federal court ruling striking down faster harvest facility line speeds allowed by USDA’s New Swine Inspection System. (see second brief) 

BILL INTRODUCED TO ENSURE IMPORTED DOGS DON’T HARM ANIMAL HEALTH 
Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would ensure dogs imported into the United States are not at risk of spreading dangerous diseases that could harm pets and livestock. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million dogs are annually imported into the country, however only about 1 percent are screened for diseases or infections. The Healthy Dogs Importation Act (H.R. 4239) would require all imported dogs to have valid certification of necessary vaccinations, and those certifications to be submitted to USDA, which would maintain a centralized, publicly available database and made available to the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Commerce and Homeland Security, among other provisions. NPPC strongly supports the Healthy Dogs Importation Act. Earlier this year, NPPC sounded the alarm on the potential for imported rescue dogs from foreign animal disease (FAD)-positive countries to serve as disease carriers from their bedding, crates or coats. Preventing African swine fever and other FADs from entering the country is one of NPPC’s top priorities, and NPPC will continue to advocate for USDA to develop rules to address the safe importation of rescue dogs from FAD-positive countries.  

USDA CONDUCTING OUTREACH WITH SWINE-RELATED SURVEYS
As a reminder, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is reaching out to a sampling of pork producers for a handful of swine-related surveys. The data from the surveys, including quarterly hog and pig inventory, swine health and feral swine surveys, will be valuable to individual operations and the overall industry, the agency noted. For more information about the surveys, contact Jim Barrett at 202-577-7604, or jim.barrett@usda.gov. 

WHAT’S AHEAD?
On July 6, NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom will be speaking on a webinar, sponsored by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, focused on African swine fever (ASF). Dr. Wagstrom will discuss industry working groups’ roles focused on preparedness and continuity of business related to the swine-only disease. Preventing the spread of ASF into the United States is among NPPC’s top priorities. To learn more or to register for the webinar, visit here.