Expanding market access to Vietnam, visa reform to address a livestock agriculture labor shortage and foreign animal disease prevention are the focus of the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers.
“Trade remains crucial to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry, and Vietnam represents a significant market for our producers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with affordable, high-quality pork.”
During LAC this week, NPPC members are urging lawmakers to sign a letter co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. A copy of the letter is available here.
Domestic pork consumption in Vietnam is greater than 2.5 million metric tons (MT) per year, more than Mexico, where the United States exported 688,252 MT, valued at $1.1 billion in 2020. Last year, U.S. pork producers only exported 25,183 MT to Vietnam, valued at $54 million.
Additionally, NPPC is advocating for meaningful labor reform. Pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near our hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the U.S. pork industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers. Unfortunately, current visa programs fail to meet the workforce needs of pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country.
NPPC’s members are also addressing these foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness priorities with lawmakers during this week’s LAC:
- Full congressionally appropriated funding—$635 million—for 720 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors, as authorized by 2020 legislation, to keep American agriculture safe from foreign animal and plant diseases;
- Appropriations of $30 million as authorized by Congress for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides disease surveillance and diagnostic support in cases of large-scale animal disease outbreaks.; and
- Tighter USDA regulation for the safe importation of rescue dogs from foreign animal disease-positive countries to protect U.S. livestock.