Senator Grassley; Reps. Hagedorn and Johnson Rally Support for Hog Farmers
Congressional lawmakers are spearheading two letters to the administration, urgently requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) appeal a recent federal district court ruling that, left unchallenged, will cause tremendous financial harm to American hog farmers starting at the end of this month.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging USDA and the DOJ to quickly appeal the court ruling that, unless halted, will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers, according to an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dr. Dermot Hayes.
The federal court’s decision—which takes effect on June 29—struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. NSIS, initiated during the Clinton administration and evaluated at five pilot plants over 20 years, was approved for industry-wide adoption in 2019. NSIS modernized an inspection system that had remained unchanged for more than 50 years. At a time when the United States is seeking to increase much-needed pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants running at NSIS line speeds by as much as 25 percent. The five original plants, which have been running at NSIS line speeds over the life of the program, have been safely operating for more than 20 years.
“We thank the lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), for their support in recognizing the damaging ramifications this court ruling will have on hog farmers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “We urge other lawmakers to join the growing calls for USDA and the DOJ to quickly intervene, preventing this carnage to hog farmers,” she added.
“While the economic impact to these packers will be significant, it is the nation’s small- and medium-sized hog farmers who will suffer the greatest harm from upstream impacts. It is imperative that USDA act quickly to move for a stay of the judge’s order and an appeal to prevent this reduction in packing capacity, which is set to take place at the end of June,” the lawmakers noted in their letters.
A copy of the letters, addressed to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Acting U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, are available HERE.
For U.S. pork producer testimony about the impact of the court’s decision on their farm operations, please click HERE.