The National Pork Producers Council elected new leadership during its recent National Pork Industry Forum, and Jen Sorenson of Iowa has been named the new president. She says the pork industry faces multiple challenges this year, including animal activism. California’s Proposition 12 is a perfect example of that activism.
“NPPC, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, sued the state of California over Prop 12, which prohibits the sale of pork raised through production methods that don’t meet its arbitrary criteria. We expect this to be a long legal battle; our case is currently with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with oral arguments scheduled for April 14th. In the meantime, NPPC is working in California to influence the pending regulation to minimize negative impacts to producers.”
The pork industry, especially meatpackers, has spent a lot of money to keep workers safe from COVID-19. However, she says adding even more worker safety mandates to those already in place may do more harm than good.
“Meatpacking facilities alone have invested $1.5 billion to ensure worker safety. We must be careful not to unnecessarily disrupt the food supply chain with mandates designed to achieve worker safety outcomes that are already achieved. The only material impact of such a temporary emergency standard would be increased food prices, potential meat shortages, and additional staggering losses for farmers from the lost value of livestock again backed up on farms.”
The NPPC is still working to help get COVID relief aid into the hands of the nation’s pork producers as soon as possible.
“We’re focusing on working with the USDA to implement relief provided by legislation passed by Congress in December, in the form of compensation to pork producers for the loss of the hogs they were forced to euthanize due to overcrowding on farms during the peak of the COVID crisis. We hope to see this much-needed relief extended to producers as soon as possible.”
Immigration reform is another important topic to NPPC because producers need access to an adequate supply of labor.
“We’re pleased the Biden Administration is taking on immigration reform, and we continue to push for reform to the H-2A Visa Program to include year-round workers essential to a stable U.S. pork industry. Existing visa programs are designed for seasonal agriculture, and that is not a good fit for the U.S. pork sector, where the work is full-time, year-round. NPPC seeks visa system reform that establishes a legal and productive workforce without placing an undue burden on employers. Restricting foreign workers hurts U.S. agriculture as these jobs won’t get filled by U.S. citizens due to the declining populations in rural areas, where most farms and packing plants are located.”
Sorenson has spent the last ten years with Iowa Select Farms, a business that markets more than five million hogs per year.