For the Week Ending March 11, 2022

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In the result of an extensive lobbying initiative, NPPC scored a huge victory with Senate and House passage this week of an omnibus budget bill to keep the government operating through fiscal 2022. A long list of NPPC priorities were funded in the $1.5 trillion spending measure. Among the most important USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) programs funded, all at levels up from fiscal 2021, were ones for:

•           Swine health – $25.4 million.

•           Veterinary diagnostics – $61.4 million.

•           Zoonotic disease management — $20.3 million.

•           Emergency preparedness and response – $42 million.

Importantly, the bill included $250 million for APHIS’s Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program to offset the loss of user fees from international passengers and planes, ship and other vehicles bringing cargo into the United States. Those funds are for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspectors who conduct searches at U.S. ports of entry. Many of NPPC’s other priorities were funded in the catch-all spending measure such authorization for the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act through the end of the fiscal year and the bill includes provisions continuing a delay on the Electronic Logging Device requirement for livestock truckers and one preventing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from requiring farms to report greenhouse gas emissions. A provision that would have prohibited the use of faster harvesting line speeds at packing plants was kept out of the bill.

Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), both of whom are members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, last week introduced legislation, S.3678, the “Beagle Brigade Act of 2022,” to authorize USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, which trains beagles and other dogs to detect food, plants and other host material that can carry foreign pests and diseases. Known as the Beagle Brigade, the dogs are trained to spot contraband fruits, vegetables and meat products in international passenger baggage, mailed packages and vehicles entering the United States. The bill formally provides congressional authorization and funds for the Newnan, GA, training center, which had been operating under USDA’s general authority over animal and plant health, with funding through user fees. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which uses the dogs at ports of entry, on a typical day seizes more than 4,600 plants, meat and animal byproducts that must be quarantined and, in most cases, destroyed. Still, foreign diseases and pests carried into the United States cost the country $138 billion annually in economic and environmental losses, according to USDA.

Under a provision included in the omnibus spending bill Congress approved this week, critical infrastructure, including hog operations and meat processing plants, subjected to cyber-attack will be required to file incident reports with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours of being hacked and within 24 hours of paying to get ransomware off their IT systems. U.S. agriculture is deemed a critical infrastructure. The provision also calls for CISA to set up a pilot program for warning entities about their cyber vulnerabilities and a task force to coordinate federal responses to cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure.

NPPC today installed new officers and elected members to its board of directors at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Louisville, KY. Terry Wolters of Pipestone, MN, was elevated to president of the organization for 2022-2023. Wolters owns Stoney Creek Farms, which consists of several sow farms, and is a partner in the Pipestone System. He also is a member of Wholestone Farms and is active in the Pipestone County Pork Producers Association, Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the South Dakota Pork Producers Council and the Minnesota Farm Bureau. Wolters takes over from Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, who becomes NPPC immediate past president and chairman of the council’s trade and nominating committees. Scott Hays of Monroe City, MO, became NPPC president-elect. He is a fifth-generation pork producer and the CEO of Two Mile Pork, LLC. He is active on the Missouri Pork Association board and committees, Missouri Corn Growers, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow, Monroe City FFA and Missouri Institute of Cooperatives. The NPPC board of directors elected Lori Stevermer of Easton, MN, as vice president. She is co-owner of Trail’s End Farm. Stevermer served on the executive board of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. Delegates at the annual meeting elected Pat Hord of Ohio and Dwight Mogler of Iowa as new members of the board, and Stevermer and Russ Vering of Howells, NE, were re-elected to another two-year term. Steve Malakowsky with Compeer Financial, was elected for a two-year term as the Allied Industry representative. They join current directors Craig Andersen of Centerville, South Dakota; Iowa; Rob Brenneman of Washington, Iowa; Jason Brester of Sioux City, Iowa; Bob Ivey of Goldsboro, North Carolina; Dr. Jeremy Pittman of Waverly, Virginia; Jeb Stevens of Osgood, Indiana; and Duane Stateler of McComb, Ohio. The delegates also approved a resolution affirming recommendations from an NPPC-National Pork Board pork industry task force.

NPPC today at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Louisville, KY, inducted Neil Dierks into the National Pork Industry Hall of Fame for his 40 years serving U.S. pork producers, including 20 years as CEO of NPPC, and for his countless contributions and dedication to the pork industry. Dierks, who after 31 years with NPPC retired in December 2021, helped develop the organization that was restarted after the separation agreement that created the National Pork Board to administer the Pork Checkoff, becoming the reconstituted NPPC’s first CEO. Dierks started his career in the pork industry when he joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981 to manage the Iowa Pork Congress. He went on to head legislative state outreach for the organization. After leading field services and state legislative outreach for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Dierks joined NPPC in 1990 to manage World Pork Expo. He also served as director of operations for NPPC’s CEO, as vice president of research and education, and as senior vice president of programs. Six months after NPPC and the industry’s checkoff were split into independent organizations, Dierks in 2001 was recruited from the Pork Board to be CEO of NPPC.

Deborah Johnson today was honored at NPPC’s annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Louisville, KY, with the NPPC-National Pork Board Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award for advocating relentlessly for North Carolina pork producers and farmers. The award, named after former Minnesota and Wisconsin Executive Directors Don Paulson and Rex Whitmore, recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork organization executives. Johnson was CEO of the NC Pork Council for 11 years and has spent a lifetime in agriculture, growing up on her family’s multi-generation farm in Johnson Co., NC, where her father and mother raised crops, and starting her own farm, with her husband Von, raising turkeys, then row crops. She also worked for Prestage Farms, Premium Standard Farms, the North Carolina State Ports, and Cape Fear (NC) Farm Credit. She is a past board member and past board president of NC Pork, as well as a delegate to NPPC and the National Pork Board. While serving as NC Pork CEO, Johnson founded the North Carolina Animal Ag Coalition, now known as the Food Dialogues, and NC Farm Families, a group that promotes and educates about the value of production agriculture, with a strong focus on pork. During her tenure at the organization, NC Pork worked to fight hunger in North Carolina, partnering with the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks.

NPPC International Technical Services Specialist Dr. Trachelle Carr over the past week participated virtually in the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s 52nd Codex Committee on Food Hygiene. The commission is the U.N.’s international food-safety standards-setting body. The CCFH meeting was hosted by Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban with USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service and was attended by 106 member countries. Among other actions, the committee agreed to advance to the next step the draft Guidelines for the Management of Biological Foodborne Outbreaks. The guidelines provide direction on preparedness and management of foodborne outbreaks, including communication with international networks, and will help strengthen the response by those networks as outbreaks occur, limiting the extent of them. The guidance also includes recommendations on the appropriate use of new analytical technologies, such as genetic typing methods in outbreak investigation. The scope is limited to biological hazards, which are the predominant cause of foodborne outbreaks. At the upcoming 45th Codex Commission meeting, the guidelines will be further discussed and could be moved for adoption as an official international standard. (For more information about the Codex meeting, click here.)

NPPC Thursday awarded scholarships to 10 college students who intend to pursue careers in the U.S. pork industry. Winners of the scholarships were announced at NPPC’s annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held in Louisville, KY. The Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship program – named after the late NPPC vice president from Mt. Olive, NC – is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation and managed and administered by NPPC. The 2022 winners of the $2,500 scholarships are:

•           Andrew Boschert, Iowa State University

•           Grace Christensen, Iowa State University

•           Grace Greiner, Iowa State University

•           Leah Greiner, Iowa State University

•           Andrea Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University

•           Avery Mather, Iowa State University

•           Abigail Ross, Iowa State University

•           Jackson Sterle, Iowa State University

•           Beth Stevermer, Iowa State University

•           Isaac Wiley, Iowa State University

The scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC, and the award was renamed in 2006 to honor the passing of NPPC Board Director Lois Britt, who spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and 15 years with Murphy-Brown LLC – Smithfield’s hog production company – doing public and government relations. She was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the NC Pork Council Hall of Fame and awarded the NC 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award among many other honors. In 2017, the National Pork Industry Foundation, a nonprofit organization administered by NPPC, joined this effort as a sponsor of the Lois Britt Scholarship, increasing the number of scholarships from five to 10. To be eligible for a scholarship, students must be undergraduates in a two-year swine program or a four-year college of agriculture, provide a brief letter describing their expected role in the pork industry, write an essay on an issue affecting the pork industry and submit two letters of reference from professors or industry professionals. (For more information on the scholarship program, click here.)


The Washington International Trade Association will hold a special event March 15 on U.S.-Korea trade relations. The free virtual webinar, taking place via Zoom on the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, will feature South Korean Minister for Trade Yeo Han-koo and NPPC Vice President and Counsel, Global Government Affairs, Nick Giordano. NPPC was a leading agricultural voice in support of the trade agreement, known as KORUS, which helped make South Korea a top-five destination for U.S. pork exports. The United States exported nearly $557 million of pork to the Asian nation last year. (Click here to register for the event.)

National Ag Day will be celebrated March 22. Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America and sponsored by dozens of other agricultural groups, including NPPC, Ag Day this year will focus on “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow,” highlighting farmers’ efforts to protect the environment. Because of COVID restrictions, most of the Ag Day events in Washington, DC, will be virtual. The Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall, which runs March 21-22, will be live. (For more information, click here.)