For the Week Ending September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2009


More than 150 pork producers from around the country came to NPPC’s Fall Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., where they met with their members of Congress to discuss important pork industry issues. The impact that the novel H1N1 flu has had on the pork industry dominated much of the talk at the conference, though it has been clear for months now that humans cannot get H1N1 by handling or consuming pork products. Producers received updates on legislative issues from NPPC staff. Director of Science and Technology Dr. Jennifer Greiner spoke about the use of antibiotics and how a ban on animal health products would be detrimental to pig health and well-being. She also reminded producers of the importance of urging Congress to strengthen the country’s food- and animal feed-safety system, using sound science to take a risk-based approach. Chief Environmental Counsel Michael Formica addressed the audience on climate change, and Vice President and Counsel for International Trade Policy Nick Giordano talked about the importance and impact of pending free trade agreements while reminding producers that China is still not importing American pork due in part to the U.S. ban on imported cooked Chinese chicken. Guest speakers at the conference included Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and National Journal political columnist Charlie Cook. Also in town during the week were 16 pork producers participating in NPPC’s Public Policy Leadership Institute [[[nppc Link]]]] and 10 swine veterinarians attending NPPC’s Swine Veterinarian Public Policy and Advocacy Program. The conference wrapped up with the widely known and well attended “Rack of Pork” congressional reception on Capitol Hill for members of Congress, their staff and pork producers. Guests at the reception enjoyed an abundance of pork products and talked with fellow producers and the many members of Congress who came in to enjoy a pork chop and good conversation.


NPPC this week submitted written testimony to the House Small Business Committee on the economic impact on the U.S. pork industry of the novel H1N1 flu. The industry has lost nearly $5 billion since September 2007, with producers losing more than an average of more than $21 per hog since then. Rising production costs – including higher corn, soybean meal and energy prices – and declining exports along with the outbreak of H1N1 flu, which the media misnamed “swine flu,” are the main causes for the dire economic circumstances. In its testimony, NPPC pointed out that the average revenue reduction from April 24 – the first day the H1N1 flu outbreak received wide media attention – to Sept. 1 was nearly $25 per pig, and total revenue has been reduced by a cumulative $1.1 billion relative to levels that April 24 futures prices would have provided. The sum of all actual and projected revenue reductions for the period from April 24 to the end of 2009 now stands at $2.2 billion.


NPPC board members and staff hosted a reception and briefing on the novel H1N1 flu for embassy officials from 25 countries Monday night in Washington, D.C. NPPC CEO Neil Dierks addressed the foreign officials, explaining to them that the U.S. pork industry and the U.S. government are gearing up for a return of the H1N1 flu and that both would continue to get out the messages that the flu is not transmitted through food (pork) and that pork is safe to eat. Earlier that day, NPPC along with nine other food industry groups sent a letter to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations thanking it for efforts in conveying to the public and the media the facts about H1N1, particularly that the virus is not transmissible through food and that it did not originate from swine. NPPC has been working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reopen to U.S. pork exports markets that were closed in the wake of the H1N1 flu outbreak, which received wide media attention starting April 24. While most nations that had them in place have lifted their bans on U.S. pork, China and a few other countries have maintained them, citing fears of H1N1, which much of the media misnamed “swine” flu. China was the second largest U.S. pork export market in 2008, buying nearly $690 million of U.S. pork and pork products. The pork export bans and a drop in consumer demand in the weeks following initial reports on the H1N1 flu, coupled with rising production costs and a worldwide economic slowdown that began two years ago, have cost the U.S. pork industry nearly $5 billion. U.S. pork producers lost an average of nearly $25 per market hog and a combined $1.1 billion from April 24 to mid-August.


NPPC President Don Butler and Vice President and Counsel for International Trade Policy Nick Giordano this week had discussions with a number of foreign ambassadors and embassy officials. Butler and Giordano met with high-ranking officials at the Chinese embassy to discuss pork market access issues and the novel H1N1 influenza. They also met with Chilean Ambassador to the U.S. Mariano Fernández Amunátegui to talk about pork market access issues and with Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Carolina Barco about NPPC’s November 2008 producer trip to Colombia and the status of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Giordano also sat down with Vietnam’s Ambassador to the U.S., Le Cong Phung, to discuss trade relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. The potential for the United States, Vietnam and other nations entering negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) was a key topic of discussion. In March, NPPC drafted and circulated a letter, onto which 69 other businesses and agricultural organizations signed, urging President Obama to begin talks to join the TPP. Butler and Giordano also met Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan at a celebration in remembrance of Mexico’s independence from Spain.


USDA yesterday announced that it is accepting bids from companies that want to sell cooked pork patties to the federal government for food and nutrition assistance programs. USDA is purchasing $21 million — more than 12 million pounds – of pork patties as part of a $30 million purchase of pork products that was requested by NPPC. Bids must be made by 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, Sept. 21, 2009; winning bids will be announced Sept. 25, 2009; and shipments of product must be made between Nov. 16, 2009, and June 30, 2010. For more information and to make a bid, visit


Tommy Sevier and Chelsie Redalen, both on NPPC’s Government Relations team in the Washington, D.C., office, have been promoted following the resignation of Vice President of Public Policy Kirk Ferrell and the promotion of Audrey Adamson to vice president of domestic issues. Sevier now will serve as assistant vice president of Government Relations, and Redalen will serve as deputy director of Government Relations.



USDA soon is expected to begin a dialogue with the livestock and poultry industries on “modernizing” the Federal Meat and Poultry Inspections acts. Food safety is a top priority of the Obama administration. The White House Food Safety Working Group recently made several recommendations for improving the safety of food, including targeting salmonella contamination by developing tougher standards to protect the safety of eggs, poultry, and turkey; stepping up enforcement in beef facilities to address E. coli; and building a new national traceback and response system for dealing with food-borne illnesses.

For questions, comments and suggestions or to unsubscribe, contact: Dave Warner, Director of Communications, NPPC, at (202) 347-3600. To read previous issues of Capital Update, visit NPPC’s Web site at