After two years on hiatus, the World Pork Expo returned to Des Moines, Iowa, this year. The National Pork Producers Council discussed top pork priorities at the Expo, the first of which is a recent court decision striking down faster harvest facility line speeds. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says the decision will hit the industry hard.
“The end of June implementation date for this court order is looming, and NPPC continues to urge the administration to appeal and stay this decision because of the damage it will exact on hog farmers, especially smaller producers. While overall U.S. pork harvest capacity will drop 2.5 percent because of this decision, capacity at six plants running NSIS line speeds will decline by as much as 25 percent.”
Producers are going to lose a lot of money because of the court’s decision. Sorenson says, “Smaller producers near these plants will be forced to sell their hogs on the spot market, and depressed prices will occur with additional transportation costs to send their hogs to distant plants. Hog farmers are expected to lose more than $80 million this year alone because of this decision.”
Sorenson says the line speed issue isn’t a partisan issue. “Development of the New Swine Inspection System started during the Clinton administration. The five original plants, which had been running at NSIS line speeds over the life of the program, have been safely operating for more than 20 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 NSIS line speeds by as much as 25 percent. The administration can prevent this from happening.
Nick Giordano, NPPC’s Vice President and Counsel for Global Government Affairs, talks about legal options for dealing with the court’s decision. “The ball’s really in USDA’s court. They’re the ones with the standing to appeal or not appeal. We have been asking them to, at a minimum, accept a longer stay of the judge’s order. Some of the companies have motioned for a stay, so right now we’re looking at a June 29 date for the expiration of the stay, and we would like USDA to support that motion. I think there’s room for the parties to make agree. We care deeply about worker safety, both on-farm and in the plant, and the data, do not, I repeat, do not suggest a problem with worker safety. The decision was reached by the judge on a technicality under the Administrative Procedures Act.”
NPPC says it’s grateful to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Representatives Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) for rallying Congressional support on the issue.