Capital Update – For the Week Ending May 10, 2024

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: Pork producers showcase industry at “Ag on the National Mall”; NPPC speaks up for producer priorities at USDA “Farm to Fork” meeting; and U.S. pork exports mixed in March, up for first quarter of 2024. Take a deeper dive below.

Pork Producers Showcase Industry at ‘Ag on the National Mall’

What happened: NPPC, in partnership with the North Carolina Pork Council and the Virginia Pork Council, joined forces for the second Celebration of Modern Ag on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“The Future of Food and Farming” themed event, hosted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, showcased cutting-edge farm equipment and sustainable agricultural practices. It served as a platform for groups to delve into vital agriculture industry issues.

Why it matters: The Celebration of Modern Ag on the National Mall is an opportunity for NPPC to tell the story of modern pork production, educating the public, policymakers, and the media about issues of importance to pork producers.

Several members of Congress, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR), attended the event. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip were also in attendance.

Producers with House Ag Chairman G.T. Thompson

Left to right: Miss Bacon, North Carolina pork producer Savannah Strickland, House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA), and North Carolina pork producer Cassie Peters.

Left to right: North Carolina pork producer Savannah Strickland, Virginia pork producer Sarah Large, North Carolina Pork Council CEO and Virginia Pork Council Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey, Rep. Don Davis (D-NC), and North Carolina pork producer Paul Utley.

Producers at Ag on the Mall pork tent
Producer speaks with the public at Ag on the Mall

Virginia pork producer Dan Johnson (far right) speaks with the public about advances in the pork industry.

North Carolina pork producers Reggie and Savannah Strickland talk about the pork industry’s sustainability efforts with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water.

Producers speak with EPA official

NPPC Speaks Up for Producer Priorities at USDA ‘Farm to Fork’ Meeting

What happened: Dr. Ashley Johnson, NPPC’s director of food policy, played a pivotal role at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 2024 “Farm to Fork” meeting, which brought together representatives from the cattle, poultry, and swine industries, as well as state and federal government agencies, to discuss topics vital to agriculture and public health.

Johnson served on the steering committee for the meeting, which was presented as part of USDA’s One Health initiative, a collaborative effort of health science professionals — ecologists, epidemiologists, physicians, public health officials, toxicologists, and veterinarians — and institutions working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, domestic animals, wildlife, plants, and the environment. The One Health approach to addressing diseases embraces the idea that a disease problem affecting the health of humans, animals, and the environment can be solved only through improved communication, cooperation, and collaboration across disciplines and institutions.

Johnson also represented pork industry priorities in various roundtable discussions and panel presentations.

Among the topics discussed at the recent meeting were:

  • Preharvest food safety trends, concerns, and successes across industry, local, state, and federal partners.
  • Reducing pathogens in the broader agricultural environment.
  • Recurrent, emerging, and persistent enteric bacterial strains of public health concern.
  • Integrating a One Health perspective to support coordination, transparency, communication, and collaboration among agencies and stakeholders.

Why it matters: “Farm to Fork” serves as a forum for agricultural industries to communicate with state and federal agencies about food safety concerns and help shape policies considered by various agencies. NPPC’s proactive involvement underscores its commitment to influencing food safety policies through science-based practices. Without NPPC’s seat at the table, there is potential for policy to be implemented that could drastically change producers’ freedom to operate.

Participants of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2024 “Farm to Fork” meeting

U.S. Pork Exports Mixed in March, Up for First Quarter of 2024

What happened: Exports of U.S. pork in March were up only slightly in volume over the same time last year and 2% higher in value compared with March 2023, while exports for the first quarter of the year were up significantly over last year, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

March pork exports to Mexico, the No. 1 foreign destination for U.S. pork, were lower year-over-year for the first time in 16 months, falling 11% to 84,808 metric tons (mt), while value was down 9% to $178.4 million. Markets that saw robust export growth in March were South Korea, which took 27,508 mt valued at $90.6 million, up 44% and 54%, respectively, from a year ago, and Central America — led by record exports to Costa Rica and Nicaragua — which imported 13,626 mt valued at $42.5 million, increases over March 2023 of 28% and 41%, respectively.

Despite the drop-off in March, exports to Mexico for the first quarter of the year were 4% higher in volume at 281,261 mt compared with the first quarter of 2023 and 6% higher in value at $575.1 million. Other markets also saw strong first-quarter export growth, with South Korea recording increases over 2023 of 54% in volume to 69,452 mt and 59% in value to $227.6 million. Exports to Australia and New Zealand in the quarter were 151% higher in volume at 28,271 mt and 139% in value at $101.8 million. With Colombia leading the way, South America also showed significant quarterly growth, with increases of 46% in volume at 36,180 mt and 54% in value at $103.4 million.

The U.S. pork industry continued to see ups and downs in its Asian markets, with first-quarter exports to Japan trending slightly lower than a year ago, down 2% in volume and 1% in value, and China/Hong Kong dropping 16% in volume and 24% in value from 2023. While exports to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were up 6% in volume, value fell 10% mostly on lower shipments to the Philippines.

Why it matters: The value of pork exports in March equated to about $71.18 from each hog marketed. That was up 12% from a year ago. For the first quarter of 2024, the average was $64.55. Exports accounted for 27.6% of total March pork production. First-quarter exports accounted for 25.4% of total production, up from 23.6% in 2023.