The industry spoke to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture on issues including trade battles, labour shortages and diseases.
National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) president David Herring said that trade wars have had the biggest impact on the sector. “One of the most damaging threats to the US pork industry has been the punitive, retaliatory trade tariffs that China and other countries have imposed,” he explained. “There is an unprecedented sales opportunity for US pork producers in China as that country continues to battle the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) and experiences a major reduction in domestic production.
“Instead, this trade opportunity is fuelling jobs, profits and rural development for our international competitors. We seek an end to the trade dispute with China and the restoration of more favourable access to the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.”
As well as calling for strengthened biosecurity at US borders to keep out ASF, Herring raised issues such as the labour shortage, the development of a Foot-and-Mouth-Disease vaccine bank needed to quickly contain and eradicate an outbreak and the right regulatory framework for gene-edited livestock.
The hearing also heard from representatives from the cattle, poultry and sheepmeat industries.
In response to the evidence given, subcommittee chairman Jim Costa said: “As the overall economy grows, it’s increasingly clear that its success isn’t shared evenly at all levels, especially in rural, agricultural areas. Today’s hearing gave the Subcommittee a chance to hear from leaders in the egg, poultry, turkey, cattle, pork and sheep industries on the barriers the industry faces to economic success.
“I appreciate the seriousness of these issues and their impacts on farmers and ranchers, from animal health and disease threats, pending trade agreements, guest worker needs, and implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, to predator management, consumer-facing issues, and so many others. I commit to working within the Subcommittee to address these challenges, so our livestock and poultry producers can get back to what they do best, producing the highest-quality products for consumers in the U.S. and around the world.”
Meanwhile Ethan Lane of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) appeared before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining to discuss how the current system of managing wild horses and burros on public lands “has been crippled to the point of catastrophic failure”.
Lane urged Congress to step in to improve the system “to the benefit of all wildlife, rangelands, and the multiple uses of those rangelands”.