The nation’s pork producers are asking the Department of Agriculture to appeal a ruling preventing a new regulatory regime for pork processing plants from going into effect nationwide.
In March, a federal judge vacated part of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System that would have allowed plants to operate plants at faster line speeds but gave the government 90 days to respond to the order. That 90 days expires at the end of June, and NPPC is pushing for a challenge to the decision.
“The U.S. pork production system, the most advanced in the world, is characterized by robust competition, innovation and efficiency. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, the lives of many hog farmers will be upended if this misguided ruling takes effect,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson.
According to an analysis from Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the ruling taking effect would equate to a 2.5% loss in pork packing capacity and an $80 million drop in income for producers. NPPC argues the ruling taking effect “will dramatically reduce hog farmer market power — particularly smaller producers located near impacted plants — and undermine pork industry competition.”
NSIS was implemented during the Clinton administration and slowly phased in over a period of time topping 20 years. A handful of plants were operating under NSIS prior to the ruling.
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Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union — the group that brought the suit that produced the ruling in question — said UFCW is "urging the USDA to respect the district court’s ruling and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety. The USDA must evaluate these worker safety risks before allowing pork plants to exceed the line speeds they were allowed to operate at through 2019."
In a statement provided to Agri-Pulse, a spokesperson for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said “only the DOJ’s Office of the Solicitor General decides whether to appeal this decision and, to date, no determination has been made.”
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