Have you seen the "if 2020 was a meme" jokes circulating around social media? For example, if 2020 was a bag of chips, it would be Lays' flavored Orange Juice and Toothpaste; if 2020 was a draft beer, it would be all head; or if 2020 was a scented candle, it would smell like a port-a-potty on fire. These are just a sampling of the memes that made me chuckle the last few months, but in all honesty, I am ready, as I am sure you are, to retire 2020 and move full force into 2021.
Last year around this time, we put together a list of 20 wishes for the U.S. pork industry in the new year. Keeping out African swine fever, gaining unrestricted market access to key exporting countries and eliminating unnecessary and unfair regulatory oversight on several areas of production were top of mind then. While these issues are still a priority for the U.S. swine industry, they have unfortunately taken a back seat to the many challenges brought on by the 2020 pandemic.
Here's a new list, updated after listening to the concerns from the National Pork Producers Council, the National Pork Board, the Swine Health Information Center, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the North American Meat Institute, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the American Feed Industry Association, the USDA, and everyone in between. While we could have made this 2021 U.S. pork industry wish list much longer, we decided to narrow it down to the top 21 we have heard most often. We hope we have captured your sincere wishes for a better year to come.
- A COVID-relief package that includes compensation for euthanized and donated hogs, additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, modification of the Commodity Credit Corp. charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding, additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it accessible to more producers.
- Food and agriculture workers be given the next highest priority for getting the COVID-19 vaccine behind healthcare workers, first responders and high-risk individuals.
- The U.S. swine population remains ASF-free.
- A commercial DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated) compatible vaccine for ASF that is ready for market.
- The United States gets China to drop its various market access barriers, including COVID-19 related measures and the 25% retaliatory duty on U.S. pork.
- U.S. export destinations remain diversified and the industry continues to pursue this goal aggressively, both in the Asia Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere.
- Barriers are eliminated that greatly limit U.S. red meat access in the European Union, including high tariffs, restrictive quotas and sanitary measures.
- There are optimal conditions for the 2021 planting and growing season.
- Regulatory oversight of gene-edited livestock is moved from the Food and Drug Administration to the USDA.
- A trade regionalization plan is implemented with key customers for U.S. pork products, that can be used in the case of a foreign animal disease outbreak.
- There is adequate funding for Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Program at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection which plays a critical role in protecting U.S. agriculture from plant and animal pests and diseases.
- The industry finds a solution for livestock agriculture's labor shortage.
- California's Proposition 12 is struck down.
- Should ASF or another FAD be diagnosed in the United States, a plan to assess and mitigate contamination within the feed supply chain.
- Mandatory labeling for cell-cultured and plant-based meat.
- Depopulation research is conducted to be more prepared for large-scale emergency response FAD outbreaks.
- The spread of wild boar across the United States is halted.
- U.S. pork producers register for AgView, a technology solution to help the U.S. pork industry respond faster in the event of an FAD outbreak.
- Science trumps emotion in nuisance lawsuits against livestock operations.
- Consumers, domestic and internationally, realize the value and versatility of U.S. "Real Pork" and make it a household staple.
- U.S. pork producers have a healthy, safe and productive 2021.