Capital Update – For the Week Ending December 8, 2023

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In this week’s National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Friday recap: NPPC briefs FAD prevention with state ag officials; Congresswoman Hinson wants next farm bill to address Proposition 12, Mass. Question 3; and application deadlines approach for pork industry student scholarships. Take a deeper dive below.

NPPC Briefs State Ag Officials on FAD Prevention and Livestock Vaccines

What happened: NPPC’s Andrew Beardslee, director of state policy, and Dr. Ashley Johnson, director of food policy, took center stage at the Ag America conference to brief agriculture commissioners from seven states on current policy affecting the pork industry. They highlighted the threat posed by foreign animal diseases (FADs), the importance of coordinated prevention, and tools necessary for response, such as vaccine development.

Ag America is a caucus of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and supports independently elected agriculture officials in states across the country. The RSLC is the largest organization of Republican state leaders in the country. Beardslee and Dr. Johnson informed the commissioners about the damage FAD would cause to the pork industry and the tools, such as vaccine development, that need to be protected. Beardslee presented an in-depth look at the policy currently affecting the industry and how future legislation could negatively impact business and their freedom to operate. Dr. Johnson presented the scientific process of which swine vaccines are approved and why these tools are critical to combating domestic and foreign animal diseases.

Why it matters: During an FAD outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will work with state agriculture departments and state veterinarians to respond to a disease. Additionally, the states would be critical to implementing a regionalization plan that allows pork exports to resume (as they would stop in the immediate aftermath of an FAD outbreak) from disease-free areas. NPPC educates states about measures to prevent FADs and the role vaccines will play a vital role in minimizing risk to the industry.

Hinson Advocates for Farm Bill to Address California Proposition 12 and Massachusetts Question 3

What happened: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) testified before the House Committee on Agriculture on the next farm bill this week. She urged fellow lawmakers to include a provision aimed at tackling market access issues caused by California Proposition 12 (Prop. 12) and Massachusetts Question 3 (Question 3). These ballot measures ban the sale of pork from hogs born to sows raised in housing that fails to meet the states’ arbitrary standards.

Hinson — a key member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration — stressed that Prop. 12 (and Question 3) “has the potential to disrupt the free movement of goods across state lines and poses a serious threat to family farms across the country.”

Click here to watch Hinson’s testimony.

Why it matters: Unchecked extraterritorial regulations, like Prop. 12 and Question 3, could force pork producers who want to continue to sell products in those states to convert existing sow pens to housing that complies with the initiatives’ standards. That would cost between $1.9 billion and $3.2 billion, according to a University of Minnesota study. Hinson relayed concerns from her constituents that would create uncertainty for family farmers, drive industry consolidation, and give farmers fewer options to source and market their pigs – all while driving up food prices.

NPPC’s take: NPPC continues to advocate for efforts to mitigate the effects of Prop. 12 and Question 3.

Application Deadlines Approach for Pork Industry Scholarships

What: Applications are open for the 2024 Neil Dierks Scholarship, as well as the 2024 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship.

The Neil Dierks Scholarship: Valued at $5,000, this scholarship is named after NPPC’s former CEO, who served the organization for 31 years. It is awarded to a student pursuing a graduate degree related to the pork industry from a land grant university. The scholarship is sponsored by the National Pork Industry Foundation, which is managed and administered by NPPC.

Application details: All entries must be sent by Dec. 31, 2023. Further information about the scholarship can be found here.

Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship: Ten annual scholarships, valued at $2,500 per scholarship, are offered to students who aspire to build a career in the pork industry and become industry leaders.

The scholarship program honors NPPC’s former board director Lois Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture. Britt spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, followed by 15 years with Murphy-Brown LLC — Smithfield Foods’ hog production company — in public and government relations. The CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation, which NPPC manages and administers, sponsor the scholarships.

Application details: All entries must be sent by Jan. 2, 2024. For more information on how to apply can be found here.