More than 120 pork producers from across the country descended upon Capital Hill this week, rallying for the Congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Taking part in the National Pork Producers Council's Fall Legislative Action Conference, the producers say by passing USMCA now, it would allow the U.S. pork industry to maintain zero-duty market access to two of its largest export markets.
“Last year, Canada and Mexico took over 40% of the pork that was exported from the U.S. and they are expected to be a large percentage this year as well,” says NPPC president David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “USMCA will strengthen our strong economic ties with our North American neighbors. Preserving zero-tariff pork trade in North American market is especially important as U.S. pork producers are struggling as a result of retaliatory tariffs in China. We asked our representatives to do all they can to push for swift ratification of USMCA.”
During the Fall LAC, NPPC members also discussed the need for continued vigilance to prevent any foreign animal disease outbreaks in the United States. The U.S. pork industry fought hard to secure funds in the 2018 Farm Bill for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank to quickly contain and eradicate an outbreak and prevent catastrophic financial losses for the agriculture economy. NPPC appreciates that USDA has begun work on establishing the bank and urges the agency to move expeditiously, given its importance. Additionally, members discussed the critical need for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen defenses against African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases.
“The United States is not currently prepared to effectively respond to an FMD outbreak,” says Herring. “While we hope we never use it, the vaccine bank needs to be up and running to ensure we have another layer of protection should there be an outbreak. It's critical that USDA acts quickly and follows through on implementation of the Farm Bill as intended by Congress.”
During the fly-in, NPPC members also urged members of Congress to support moving regulatory oversight of gene editing in animals from the Food and Drug Administration to USDA, and ensuring that any new regulations related to the buying and selling of livestock, including the new GIPSA rule in development, don't restrict pork producers' rights to enter into contractual business relationships.