Pulling for Pork in Washington, D.C.

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Eleven representatives from the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) traveled to Washington, D.C. for two days as part of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference. Their conversations centered around pulling for U.S. pork producers in current trade agreements and national issues.

The IPPA Executive officer team, as well as members of the inaugural Future Leaders class, conducted 18 meetings, one with nearly each member of the Illinois Congressional delegation. Those who attended are:

  • Pam Janssen (IPPA President)
  • Dale Weitekamp (IPPA President Elect)
  • Alan Kollmann (IPPA Vice President/Treasurer)
  • Thomas Titus (IPPA Secretary)
  • Mike Haag (IPPA Past President)
  • Blane Olson (IPPA Director)
  • Phil Borgic (NPPC Director)
  • Joe Goetz (Future Leaders)
  • Jake Nims (Future Leaders)
  • Jennifer Tirey (IPPA Executive Director)

While in D.C., pork producers urged congress to ratify USMCA and support measures to prevent foreign animal disease. Gene edited livestock regulatory framework and the pending GIPSA rule were also addressed.

This two-day event allows pork producers from Illinois the chance to join 110 fellow producers from across the country in the United States Capitol.

“It is imperative that our legislature hears our voice, straight from the source” says Janssen, current IPPA President, who believes it is imperative that producers take time to travel to D.C. to maximize these conversations.

China is the largest producer, consumer and importer of pork in the world. U.S. pork producers have lost $8 per hog, or $1 billion industry wide on an annualized basis, because of China’s punitive tariffs. In 2018, exports accounted for more than $51 of the average $141 value of a hog. Pork producers nation-wide are rallying for the Trump Administration to expeditiously resolve trade disputes with China so that all punitive tariffs on U.S. pork are eliminated.

On a brighter note, the vibe in D.C. was optimistic for a Japan agreement to be signed during a UN meeting in New York City at the end of this month. According to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, U.S. pork exports to Japan will grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the United States quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan. Japan is the largest value market and second largest volume market for U.S. pork exports.

Aside from trade, another valuable topic is the regulation of gene-editing in animals. The pork industry strongly supports moving regulatory oversight from the FDA to USDA’s APHIS, which already regulates gene editing in plants, who can ensure proper, risk-based regulatory review under the Animal Health Protection Act. Regulation of gene editing in animals by the FDA as an “animal drug” will result in U.S. innovators moving offshore to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China and other nations which are taking a science-based approach to the issue. As American farmers, we want the opportunity to use innovative technology to better our industry and product for the consumer.

There are currently more than 2,000 farms producing 5.1 million total hogs in the state. In Illinois, the pork industry contributes over $1.8 billion to the state’s economy, generates more than $170 million in taxes and provides more than 21,900 jobs. Even as the number of farmers in our state continues to decrease, those remaining are producing more pork than ever before, for their families and yours.

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