U.S. pork producers can continue to lead in food production and meet domestic and world demand for pork provided exports continue to grow, feedgrains are available and producers are allowed to operate without excessive legislative and regulatory burdens.
That’s the message from National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Doug Wolf, who testified Wednesday before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.
Exports have been a boon to the U.S. pork industry, which is the world’s top exporter of pork. “But the industry will not stay in that position if competitor countries cut trade deals in key markets and the United States does not,” he says.
NPPC urged lawmakers to approve the pending free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. Fully implemented, the deals will generate more than $770 million in additional pork exports, boost hog prices by more than $11/head and create more than 10,000 U.S. pork industry jobs, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.
As good as exports can be, “they will do little good if domestic policies hamper producers’ ability to operate,” Wolf observes.
Feed availability for animals and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed regulation on buying and selling livestock were two other concerns Wolf raised.
Tight feedgrain supplies, driven in part by subsidized ethanol production, could produce spot shortages of feed this year. Producers are also concerned a weather event in the Corn Belt could affect 2011-2012 crop supplies.
On USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed marketing rule, Wolf says one study found it would cost the pork industry alone nearly $400 million annually, and could force some producers out of business. NPPC has asked USDA to scrap the rule, to write a regulation on only the five topics Congress advised it to address in the 2008 Farm Bill, and to conduct an economic analysis, open to public comment, of any rule before it is finalized.