Expert panel discusses the latest legislative priorities of foreign animal disease, labor and international trade.
A panel led by National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) experts today at World Pork Expo discussed the pork industry’s current policy priorities that are vital to producers’ livelihoods and the future success of the industry. As part of the pork industry’s long-range strategic planning process, the Pork Industry Visioning Task Force prioritized international trade, foreign animal disease and labor as key policy issues to address that will move the industry forward.
“Reasonable public policy that preserves producers’ ‘freedom to operate,’ ensures our animals are healthy and have access to a reliable pipeline of workers, and expands markets for our products is essential to building a sustainable future,” said panelist Terry Wolters, NPPC president and owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minnesota. “We need to lead on these issues, activating producers to tell their stories, collaborating with agricultural partners to amplify our voices, and working with policymakers and regulators to implement meaningful change.”
Protecting pig health from emerging threats
With the threat of African swine fever detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in more than 40 years, calls to protect U.S. borders have never been more urgent.
“We are asking lawmakers for additional funding in key government programs to prevent and prepare for an outbreak,” said panelist Dr. Liz Wagstrom, NPPC chief veterinarian. “Fully staffing our CBP agricultural inspection program and hiring additional APHIS-VS field staff are among the investments NPPC has requested.”
Advocating for a reliable workforce
An ongoing labor shortage continues to impact producers and pork processors. NPPC supports visa reform that opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without an annual cap on the number of visas, and provides a path to legal status for agricultural workers already in the country.
“The lack of workers undermines a critical economic sector that in recent years has driven employment and wage growth faster than the overall economy,” said panelist Jack Detiveaux, NPPC manager of competition, labor and tax. “Hog farming is vital to the prosperity of rural America and to maintaining an abundant supply of safe, nutritious pork for consumers here and around the globe.”
Striving for continued success of U.S. pork exports
Negotiating new and expanding existing free trade agreements is important to the industry’s growth. Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, is a key priority to create American jobs and boost pork exports to an estimated 500 million consumers served in the 11-member pact.
“It’s vital for the U.S. pork industry to strengthen relationships in the Asia-Pacific region. CPTPP would put us on a level playing field with other pork trading countries, such as the EU,” said Maria Zieba, NPPC assistant vice president of international affairs. “We are also encouraging the Biden administration to address market disparities as part of ongoing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations.”
Actions taken on these vital issues today will impact producers for years to come.
“We are committed to building momentum for groundbreaking advocacy work on behalf of pork producers,” said Bryan Humphreys, NPPC CEO. “That means strengthening advocacy outreach by showing up in new ways; working more collaboratively across agriculture; and taking action in D.C., in states and in the global marketplace.”