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Pork Industry Can Thrive, Says NPPC

by 5m Editor
5 May 2011, at 9:15am

US - The country's pork industry can continue to be a leader in food production and meet domestic and world demand for pork as long as exports continue to grow, feed grains are available and producers are allowed to operate without undue legislative and regulatory burdens, said the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in congressional testimony given yesterday, 4 May.

NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wisconsin, told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry that the US pork industry is doing well but has concerns about issues that could jeopardise its continued success.

He pointed out that exports have been a boon to the US pork industry, which is the world's No. 1 exporter of pork. But, he said: "The industry will not stay in that position if competitor countries cut trade deals in key markets and the United States does not."

NPPC urged lawmakers to approve the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The deals, when fully implemented, will generate more than $770 million in additional pork exports, increase hog prices by more than $11 per head and create more than 10,000 US pork industry jobs, according to Iowa State University economist, Dermot Hayes.

Mr Wolf cautioned the panel that, as good as exports can continue to be for the industry.

He said: "They will do little good if domestic policies hamper producers' ability to operate."

He mentioned two issues: the availability of feed for animals and the US Department of Agriculture's proposed regulation on buying and selling livestock – the GIPSA rule.

Tight feed-grain supplies, driven in part by subsidised ethanol production, could cause spot shortages of feed this year, and producers are worried that a weather event in the Corn Belt, for example, could affect next crop year's (2011-2012) supplies. NPPC requested USDA to address the potential crisis, but the agency has taken no action.

On the GIPSA rule, Mr Wolf said one study found it would cost the pork industry alone nearly $400 million annually and could force producers like him out of business. NPPC has asked USDA to scrap the rule, to write a regulation on only the five topics Congress told it to address in the 2008 Farm Bill and to conduct an economic analysis – open to public comment – of any rule before it is finalised.