A federal district court ruling striking down faster harvest facility inspection speeds allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) goes into effect tomorrow, June 30, 2021. The Biden administration has until the end of August to file an appeal. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) urges the administration to appeal this damaging ruling – which will quickly lead to increased pork industry concentration and packer market power – and seeks waivers for the impacted plants until a longer-term solution, acceptable to all industry stakeholders, is realized.
The ruling eliminates 2.5 percent of pork packing plant capacity nationwide and will result in $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers this year alone, according to an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dr. Dermot Hayes. Last week, more than 70 lawmakers sent letters asking Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Acting Solicitor General Prelogar to appeal the court decision.
“While we are disappointed the Biden administration has not appealed the court ruling, there is still time for the government to act by appealing the decision and providing waivers that allow the six impacted plants to continue operating at NSIS line speeds until a new rule can be developed,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “NPPC continues to urge the administration to appeal before the ruling inflicts irreversible damage to small hog farmers and seismic changes to our entire sector.”
NSIS, initiated during the Clinton administration and evaluated at five pilot plants over 20 years, was approved for industry-wide adoption in 2019. NSIS modernized an inspection system that had remained unchanged for more than 50 years. Ironically, at a time when the United States is seeking to increase much-needed pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants running at NSIS line speeds by as much as 25 percent and prevent other plants from increasing harvest capacity. The five original plants, which had been running at NSIS inspection line speeds over the life of the program, have been safely operating for more than 20 years.
For U.S. pork producer testimony about the impact of the court’s decision on their farm operations, please click HERE.
Source: NPPC news release