U.S. Pork Industry Battling Challenges From Trade to Labor Shortage, NPPC President Tells Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 16, 2019 – The U.S. pork industry faces numerous challenges both at home and abroad that, if not addressed, will pose significant harm to our farms, rural communities and ultimately consumers, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., testified this morning before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
“One of the most damaging threats to the U.S. pork industry has been the punitive, retaliatory trade tariffs that China and other countries have imposed,” Herring told the subcommittee.
China is the largest consumer and importer of pork in the world, but U.S. hog farmers have been sidelined, Herring told the subcommittee, due to China’s 62% tariff on American pork that have cost domestic producers $1 billion on an annualized basis. “There is an unprecedented sales opportunity for U.S. pork producers in China as that country continues to battle the spread of African swine fever and experiences a major reduction in domestic production,” he said. “Instead, this trade opportunity is fueling jobs, profits and rural development for our international competitors. We seek an end to the trade dispute with China and the restoration of more favorable access to the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.”
Herring also called for expeditated negotiation of a trade agreement with Japan, where U.S. pork producers are losing market share due to new trade agreements Japan has formed with the European Union and TPP-11 nations.
In addition to trade issues, U.S. pork producers are working to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks, Herring explained to the subcommittee. “We can all agree that we need to keep this deadly swine-only disease out of the USA,” he said. To that end, NPPC has been advocating for strengthened biosecurity at our borders and is requesting appropriations funding for 600 additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Inspectors at our borders.
In his testimony, Herring also highlighted several other priorities for U.S. pork producers, including:
- Visa reform to address a serious labor shortage that could lead to farms and packing plants closing operations. NPPC supports visa system reform that provides agricultural employers with sustained access to year-round labor.
- Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill as intended by Congress, including development of a Foot-and-Mouth-Disease vaccine bank needed to quickly contain and eradicate an outbreak.
- The right regulatory framework for gene-edited livestock, an innovation that promises to strengthen U.S. pork’s competitive position globally. Through its “Keep America First in Agriculture” campaign, NPPC is aggressively working to establish oversight within the U.S. Department of Agriculture where it belongs, not with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has claimed jurisdiction.
“Addressing these challenges will make U.S. hog farmers even more competitive, expand production, fuel job growth and contribute to rural communities across the country,” Herring said.
A full copy of Herring’s prepared remarks is available here.
NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.