The federal district court ruling that struck down the pork harvest facility line speed increase allowed under the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System will lead to increased market concentration, the National Pork Producers Council says.

NPPC cited research by economists Steve Meyer and Barry Goodwin that says the ruling will make the pork market less competitive by forcing plants to process fewer hogs, leaving more pigs available to plants whose capacity was unaffected by the ruling.

As a result of more pigs being left on the market, the research says hog producers will likely be forced to accept lower prices for their pigs.

The impact on hog prices will only get worse in the fourth quarter, when hog supply reaches its seasonal high, according to the research. 

Marc Perrone, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, says more research needs to be done on how the increased line speeds will impact 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,” he said.

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The ruling is scheduled to go into effect June 29; the judge in the case recently rejected a request by pork companies affected by the ruling to stay her decision pending appeal.

Meyer's and Goodwin’s research follows an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes that said the ruling will reduce pork packing plant capacity by 2.5% nationally and cost small hog farmers more than $80 million in lost income.

“We ask the administration to seek a longer stay or waivers to preserve U.S. pork industry competition — which is always good for workers and consumers — and prevent harm to small hog farmers while we work constructively with all stakeholders toward a longer-term solution,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. 

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