New Swine Inspection System (NSIS)

NPPC’s Position

NPPC supports allowing packing plants to run faster harvesting line speeds, increasing packing capacity, and restoring some market power to producers.

 

NPPC supports the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in approving applications from additional packing plants that want to run faster line speeds and adopt the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS).

 

NPPC encourages Congress to appropriate adequate funds for USDA to hire Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel to address a shortage of plant inspectors.

Background

Under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2019 New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) regulations, packing plants were allowed to run faster harvesting line speeds. Faster line speeds help pork producers increase packing capacity giving pork producers market leverage when selling hogs.

The line speeds provision was more than 20 years in the making, starting in 1997 under the Clinton administration, that included six pork plants operating at faster speeds through the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP).

In March 2021, a U.S. District Court in Minnesota struck down the NSIS line speeds provision, arguing that USDA did not consider worker safety in promulgating the final rule. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, when the court’s ruling took effect on July 1 last year, the pork industry lost 2.5% of its harvest capacity. With that reduction, some pork producers lost market leverage and had fewer options for selling their hogs.

The court ruling also allowed processors to exercise force majeure clauses to cancel contracts with producers. Some producers switched to other harvesting facilities with capacity that required many to transport hogs long distances. Iowa State’s analysis found this added up to $10 per hog to the cost of production.

In November 2021, with NPPC’s urging, the USDA allowed some pork packing plants to run faster line speeds. Nine plants that had previously adopted the NSIS can apply for a one-year trial program to use faster speeds. During that time, they will be required to collect and share data with USDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on the effects of line speeds on workers.

Fast Facts

Faster harvesting line speeds were used for 20 years by 5 pork packing plants under FSIS’s HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) program before becoming part of the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS).

A loss of 2.5%

of packing capacity for the pork industry resulted from a federal court ruling that struck down the line speed provision of the NSIS. The decision also caused some pork producers to lose market leverage because there were fewer options for selling their hogs.

A new USDA test program allows 9 plants that previously adopted the NSIS to apply to run faster line speeds again, and the program eventually could be opened to more plants.

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