Illinois Pork Producers Meet Virtually for Fall Legislative Action Conference

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Though not in-person in Washington D.C. like usual, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is still fostering relationships with legislators via virtual meetings this week for the fall Legislative Action Conference (LAC). A COVID-relief package that includes much-needed assistance to hog farmers in crisis, and foreign animal disease prevention, top the list of five critical issues that are being discussed.

Each morning this week the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has been hosting informational meetings for producers to tune into. Some of the speakers include: Dr. Steve Meyer, Kerns & Associates; APHIS Chief Veterinarian Dr. Burke Healey; congressional speakers and NPPC staff.

Through online meeting platforms, legislators and Illinois pork producers are able to see and talk with each other to explain the current climate of the pork industry and relevant issues. Between low commodity prices and unexpected supply chain complications due to COVID-19, farmers are calling upon officials for assistance.

IPPA and NPPC are advocating for a COVID assistance package that includes the following provisions: 1) compensation for euthanized and donated hogs; 2) additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners; 3) modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding; 4) additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and; 5) extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it accessible to more producers.

U.S. pork producers continue suffering considerable losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot afford another catastrophic blow should African swine fever (ASF) or other foreign animal diseases enter our country.

Last week, Germany reported its first case of ASF in a wild boar. The swine-only disease continues to spread in parts of Europe and Asia, and the United States needs to remain vigilant to ensure ASF and other animal and plant diseases don’t enter the country.

NPPC is urging Congress to fully fund foreign animal disease prevention programs. U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously.

NPPC’s members are also addressing these priorities with lawmakers during this week’s LAC:

  • A U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement that eliminates all tariff and non-tariff barriers;
  • Moving regulatory oversight of gene editing in animals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and
  • Timely reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act, set to expire Sept. 30.

“These conversations that Illinois pig farmers are able to have with members of our congressional delegation are critical in expressing what is happening to our industry and our farms,” says Dale Weitekamp, IPPA President. “Even though our group couldn’t host these meetings in person, we have still had productive conversations.”

To keep up with the pork industry in Illinois follow IPPA on social media or check in at ilpork.com.

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