WASHINGTON — The National Pork Producers Council held its fall Legislative Action Conference Sept. 14-15, with nearly 100 pork producers in Washington, D.C., meeting with their members of Congress to discuss pork industry priorities. Over the two-day event, producers asked lawmakers to:
- Press the Biden administration to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and to negotiate an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework trade deal that addresses market access for and non-tariff barriers to U.S. products.
- Expand the H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural workers, including packing plant employees. Currently, the visa only allows for temporary, seasonal farm laborers.
- Pass the “Beagle Brigade Act,” authorizing a training center for dogs that can detect animal and plant diseases and pests at the country’s points of entry. Only the Senate must approve the measure; the House passed the bill earlier this year. Producers also asked that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agricultural inspection program be fully funded.
- Fund in next farm bill the National Annual Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Veterinary Stockpile. Producers also asked for an increase in funds to help reduce the population of feral swine, which can carry foreign animal diseases.
- Reauthorize and fund — also through the farm bill — the Market Access and the Foreign Market Development programs to promote U.S. agricultural exports and authorize a USDA catastrophic risk insurance program to help mitigate risks for pork producers.
The highlight of the biennial fly-in was Wednesday’s Capitol Hill-famous BaconFest reception, with dozens of congressional lawmakers and hundreds of staffers in attendance. Because of COVID, it was the first BaconFest since the fall 2019 legislative conference.
At the conclusion of the conference, NPPC President Terry Wolters, President-elect Scott Hays, Vice President Lori Stevermer, and CEO Bryan Humphreys, joined by NPPC policy staff, met with reporters to discuss the NPPC-American Farm Bureau Federation challenge of California Proposition 12, which bans in the state the sale of pork that doesn’t meet California’s sow housing standards. Oral arguments in the case will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11.
— National Pork Producers Council