In this file:
· Media Release: NPPC Renews Call for Labor Solutions, Other Essential Support for Pork Production Continuity
· COVID-19 Restrictions Could Impact Food Supply
· U.S. Pork Producers, Union in Standoff Over Worker Shortage
NPPC Renews Call for Labor Solutions, Other Essential Support for Pork Production Continuity
Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
Mar 18, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2020 – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) renewed its call for government help to prevent a severe labor shortage from becoming a crisis. The decision by the U.S. Department of State to suspend visa processing in Mexico threatens to worsen the labor shortage in the pork industry and across U.S. agriculture. Mexico is a very important source of labor for U.S. hog farmers and packing plants.
"I want to underscore that our farms and plants are not in crisis today," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Farmers are the foundation and heart of the food supply system. Hog farmers and others in the pork industry are doing their part to ensure American kitchens are well-stocked. But we are very concerned about the recent State Department announcement regarding consulates in Mexico and the implications for our operations."
The pork industry, a farm sector that operates year-round, uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but cannot use the program for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. Hog farmers are major users of the TN visa program, which taps labor from Mexico.
In addition to workforce concerns, NPPC said U.S. pork producers need additional federal support, including:
· Clarity from the U.S. Department of Transportation that farms are part of the critical domestic infrastructure needed to produce the food that feeds America and the world. This clear designation ensures the uninterrupted supply of commercial feed and other production inputs to farms, as well as the transport of livestock from farm to market. Hog farmers also have concerns about the potential shortage of standard supplies such as boot covers, coveralls and disinfectants needed to maintain high standards of biosecurity, animal care and food safety.
· Provisions in the pending congressional relief package to provide financial support for childcare for farm and plant workers.
Roth added, "U.S. hog farmers are committed to maintaining the continuity of the food supply and we stand with the administration in its response to the COVID-19 challenge. The pork supply chain is operating, but now is the time to get ahead of looming challenges and ensure federal and state policies support farmers and the critical role they play in meeting the nutritional needs of the nation."
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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America's 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.
COVID-19 Restrictions Could Impact Food Supply
Cindy Zimmerman, AgWired
March 18, 2020
Beginning today, the United States will suspend routine immigrant and nonimmigrant processing visa services in Mexico indefinitely, including immigrant workers approved under the H-2A guest worker program who are needed to help farmers and ranchers get food in the grocery stores.
“The decision to halt visa application processing in Mexico will restrict the number of immigrant workers being allowed to enter the country,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall. “Under the new restrictions, American farmers will not have access to all of the skilled immigrant labor needed at a critical time in the planting season. This threatens our ability to put food on Americans’ tables.”
Farm Bureau is urging USDA, the State Department and the White House to find “safe, practical ways to admit farm laborers as emergency workers for visa purposes while still protecting public health.”
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) renewed its call for government help to prevent a severe labor shortage from becoming a crisis, since Mexico is a very important source of labor for U.S. hog farmers and packing plants...
U.S. Pork Producers, Union in Standoff Over Worker Shortage
Lydia Mulvany, Bloomberg
via Yahoo Finance - March 13, 2020
(Bloomberg) -- American pork producers and workers are battling over whether the ramifications from the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a potential “nightmare” scenario of labor shortages and the need for more guest-worker visas.
The National Pork Producers Council put in a request to members of Congress this week for more visas through the country’s guest-worker program, citing school closures that are preventing employees from going to work.
The United Food & Commercial Workers Union, the largest U.S. private sector union that represents 30,000 American pork workers, is having none of it. The group called the visa request an exploitation of the current crisis.
The standoff highlights the mounting pressure on American agriculture and the broader economy as the virus strains people and resources. Governors and mayors nationwide are stepping up actions to mitigate the spread, closing schools and canceling public events. Meanwhile, food production is in high demand as consumers shun dining out and stock up on supplies for cooking at home.
Allowing for additional migrant workers will “destroy American jobs and further weaken the economy,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “The last thing Americans need is giant corporations watering down safeguards that protect American workers and our country’s food safety,” he said.
The pork producers council said that as schools close, laborers will leave farms and slaughter lines to take care of children, resulting in economic hardship in rural communities. Animal welfare could be harmed as well, according to the group. The pork industry is vulnerable to bottlenecks as farmers have boosted output and packers increased slaughter capacity in recent years...