Recognizing the global footprint of the U.S. pork industry and its associated risks, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) got included in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill this past week a provision that will look at protecting hog farmers from closure of foreign markets.
Klobuchar’s amendment, cosponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and part of a package of riders offered as a manager’s amendment to the farm legislation, calls for a study on setting up catastrophic risk-management insurance for pork producers to cover input costs lost because of an animal disease or event that stops exports of U.S. pork.
“The U.S. pork industry thanks Sen. Klobuchar for her leadership and is grateful to her for sponsoring this much-needed study,” says R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, NC, and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “The increased presence of disease, along with increasing international travel and trade that move diseases around the world, have created an unprecedented risk to the U.S. pork industry. Producers need risk-management tools that can protect them should our export markets close. We applaud Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Grassley for supporting our industry and helping to ensure our jobs are not jeopardized.”
The U.S. pork industry in 2011 exported more than $6 billion of product, which accounted for about 27% of total production and supported more than 50,000 jobs. But that success brings additional risk, according to NPPC. Indeed, U.S. pork exports fell in 2009 after 16 years of record exports because of an outbreak in humans of the H1N1 flu virus that was misnamed “swine flu.”
“We need a program that will protect producers from another H1N1 situation,” Hunt says.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has a pilot insurance program for hog producers called Livestock Gross Margin (LGM), but it has a $3 million limit on spending that restricts the number of pigs that any one producer can insure. Additionally, the program now is available only for a six-month period.
The Klobuchar amendment would require USDA to study how a catastrophic event insurance program for pork would be structured.