More than 100 pork producers from around the country attended the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Spring Legislative Action Conference (LAC) on September 13-14 in Washington, D.C. This biannual fly-in featured engaging speakers, a media briefing and NPPC’s widely popular congressional “Baconfest” reception in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.
NPPC President Scott Hays kicked off LAC by sharing the importance of having producers travel to meet with their members of Congress: “Having you here in Washington, speaking up for our industry, is critical to having lawmakers understand that decisions they make in Washington affect how we can continue to provide safe, nutritious food to American families and consumers worldwide.”
During the two-day event, speakers included NPPC Board officers, Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) and NPPC policy experts who focused on four key issue areas:
2023 Farm Bill priorities
Finding a legislative solution to California Proposition 12
Expanding trade and market access
Strengthening the H-2A visa program
2023 Farm Bill – Protect the U.S. Food Supply: NPPC is advocating for a 2023 Farm Bill that fully funds the programs that safeguard the nation’s food supply against threats posed by foreign animal diseases (FADs), as well as key programs that expand foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.
The U.S. pork industry has faced significant headwinds since 2018, when the farm bill was last reauthorized, due to trade retaliation, supply chain issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and looming threats of FAD. U.S. pig farmers need solutions to sustain an industry that supports more than 610,000 American jobs and generates nearly $36 billion in personal income annually in rural America.
The Beagle Brigade Act of 2023 provides critical inspections at our nation’s ports of entry that prevent FADs from entering the U.S. Additionally, it provides congressional authority to the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center — allowing it to continue to operate.
The upcoming farm bill offers the opportunity to address the challenges, provide the industry with the tools to prevent further disruption and keep the food system safe and reliable.
California Proposition 12 – Support a Legislative Solution: NPPC supports including a federal solution in the farm bill for the sweeping issues posed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold California Proposition 12.
Livestock farmers, veterinarians and animal scientists work hard to follow industry standards and best practices to protect the welfare and health of animals in their care. California Proposition 12 ignores scientific research and facts about animal husbandry, and reverses decades of progress on farm management and animal welfare.
Trade – Expand and Develop Market Access: NPPC supports trade agreements and other trade initiatives that open new and expand existing export markets and eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork exports.
U.S. pork farmers have built a global reputation for providing domestic and foreign markets with high-quality, affordable products. In 2022, the U.S. exported $7.6 billion worth of pork to more than 100 countries and supported more than $61 in value for each hog marketed. U.S. pork exports also support over 155,000 jobs domestically.
To grow exports and support high-paying jobs in rural communities, the United States must open new and expand existing markets through trade agreements, trade and investment framework agreements, and market access deals.
Labor – Strengthen the H-2A Visa Program: Agriculture suffers from a severe labor shortage that negatively affects all links in the food supply chain – particularly in the pork industry. Pig farm employment has declined since 2021, despite higher wages and competitive benefits. Although historically dependent on foreign-born workers, current visa requirements fail to meet pork industry workforce needs.