Pork On The Hill: industry leaders discuss their most pressing issues
Nearly 100 pork producers participated in the Pork Council’s spring legislative fly-in this week. They discussed some of the most pressing issues in the industry.
Preventing foreign animal diseases, addressing an agricultural labor shortage, and increasing pork exports are some of the top concerns for the National Pork Producer’s Council. President Terry Wolters says that they are asking lawmakers to appropriate funding that has already been approved.
“For support to our NOMS labs that are really relative to testing and surveillance for any foreign animal disease, not just African swine fever,” he explains. “We’ve also asked for funding to support APHIS to really promote hiring of staff and support our Customs and Border Patrol surveillance. Along with our begal team that we rely on very heavily.”
They are also asking to expand the H-2A Visa program to allow year-round workers on farms and in packing plants.
“We want additional laborers if you will. We need more to expand the limits, but we also need to expand the time that those people are eligible to stay here and work. The pork industry relies on highly skilled positions, and it’s unfortunate when those workers come in and work for a short period of time. We spend a lot of time training them and then they have to go back.”
Producers are also focused on exports which adds $63 dollars of value per hog, according to Wolters.
“We are asking Congress and urging the Biden administration to join back to what is now the CP TPP program. We want to run that program as TPP, but the Trump administration pulled out of that program, and so, we are urging to get back into that. Those eleven countries in that trade block represent 500 million consumers and $13.5 million dollars in GDP.”
NPPC is also gearing up for a Supreme Court hearing on California’s Prop-12 ruling, which was passed in 2018 but never actually written.
“We were supposed to be complaint January 1, with what, an unofficial rule? How am I supposed to deal with that as a producer? It’ll take me an entire building season to get a facility ready to do that. The sows are bred and mated. It’s an eleven-month lifecycle. How am I supposed to deal with that? It’s expensive. It’s non-scientific. It’s completely arbitrary.”
Oral arguments for the case will take place later this fall, with a final decision expected towards the end of the year.