More than 130 pork producers from around the country today wrapped up two days of lobbying lawmakers on important pork industry issues as part of the National Pork Producers Council biannual legislative fly-in.
Producers from 20 states visited their senators’ and representatives’ Capitol Hill offices, urging them to back federal funding for addressing antibiotic resistance and for establishing a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, to oppose legislation that would allow for the intrastate commercial sale of uninspected meat and to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
NPPC supports full allocation of the fiscal 2016 $10 million budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to implement the agency’s Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan and $25 million of additional funding for research on antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic alternatives through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and/or its Agricultural Research Service.
The organization also wants Congress to appropriate at least $5 million for APHIS to set up an offshore FMD vaccine bank and is requesting that APHIS contract for production of enough vaccine to address the early stages of an outbreak and of the millions of additional doses needed to respond to a medium- or large-scale outbreak.
“Those are critically important issues for our industry,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “We’re very concerned about the resistance issue and about the ramifications of an FMD outbreak, so our producers let their members of Congress know we support efforts to address both matters.”
On the issue of uninspected meat, NPPC opposes the “Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption,” or PRIME, Act because it would create food safety risks, prevent animal diseases from being detected and addressed and undermine public confidence in the food supply.
The TPP has been the top trade priority of NPPC, which led the agricultural industry in supporting the multilateral deal, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Those Pacific Rim countries account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.
“NPPC has been a strong, consistent supporter of free trade agreements, and we support the TPP, which will be the biggest commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers,” said Weber. “The future of our industry is dependent on increasing exports, and if the TPP deal that was negotiated is implemented, U.S. pork exports to the Asia-Pacific region will increase exponentially.
“We appreciate the strong support we are receiving from the Obama administration and Congress to ensure that U.S. pork producers receive the full benefit of the TPP agreement,” Weber said. “There are still some issues that must be addressed, but we’re confident they will be resolved, and the pork producers who came to Washington this week conveyed that message to their lawmakers.”