In this file:
· Media Release: NPPC Applauds Government Guidance Recognizing U.S. Agriculture as Critical Industry
· NPPC's New President A.V. Roth Looks Forward to Year Ahead
· Labor: The Topic That Keeps Farmers Up at Night
NPPC Applauds Government Guidance Recognizing U.S. Agriculture as Critical Industry
Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
Mar 19, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2020 – This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance on critical industry workforce that should continue as the country addresses and responds to the coronavirus outbreak; U.S. food and agriculture was included among 16 critical industries.
Specifically, DHS recognized as essential a variety of pork production roles. Among these critical workers:
o Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging.
o Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically.
o Animal agriculture workers including those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce.
"We thank DHS for acknowledging the vital role that pork producers play in helping to feed consumers here at home and around the globe with a high-quality, affordable protein," said National Pork Producers President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "We recognize that states and local governments are working hard to ensure operational continuity. As part of that effort, we urge state and local governments to swiftly follow and implement this federal directive. We need to ensure there is a continuous and uninterrupted supply of pork to America's kitchen tables."
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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.
NPPC's New President A.V. Roth Looks Forward to Year Ahead
Jennifer Shike, FarmJournal's Pork
March 19, 2020
A.V. Roth, a fifth-generation farmer who has raised hogs his entire life, says he’s excited for the chance to lead pork producers in the year ahead as president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
From funding to trade, the opportunities are varied and the reach is far. As president, Roth will hand over some of the responsibilities of his small, farrow-to-wean operation in southwest Wisconsin to his family in order to represent U.S. pork producers throughout the year ahead.
“This role is a huge honor. The people who have come before me have been great leaders, titans for the pork industry,” Roth says. “I'm so humbled for the honor to have just a little bit of that opportunity to serve.”
A look at the issues ahead
The U.S. pork industry has been battling an ongoing labor shortage, which is now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the country and world. Although pig farms and pork processing plants are not in crisis today, Roth says NPPC is working hard to prevent the severe labor shortage from becoming a crisis.
U.S. pork producers need additional federal support, Roth says. This includes provisions in the pending congressional relief package to provide financial support for childcare for farm and plant workers.
“We need 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,” he says...
Profitability and sustainability ...
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Labor: The Topic That Keeps Farmers Up at Night
Jennifer Shike, Drovers
March 19, 2020
U.S. agriculture has a great responsibility on its shoulders – to keep food on the tables of U.S. consumers despite challenges along the way. From uncertain markets to fuel shortages, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President-Elect Jen Sorenson says agriculture always finds a way through.
Still, the situations facing production agriculture now in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic are weighing heavy on the minds of farmers and ranchers. Sorenson says the severe labor shortage keeps her up at night.
“We aren’t able to telecommute. That is not an option for us in the pork industry,” says Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms. “We have to make sure our industry has the support they need to be able to come in and do their job each day.”
Food production is an essential service
The dynamics are changing fast, she adds. With the closing of the U.S. Consulate in Mexico on Tuesday and the Canadian border shutting down, hog producers are gravely impacted. 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.
“The TN visa program allows for professional swine caretakers from Mexico to work in the U.S.,” Sorenson explains. “These specialized caretakers fill important roles on our sow farms, including day one caretakers, breeding leads and ultrasound technicians. Many hog farmers utilize this TN visa program to help fill labor gaps on their farms.”
To apply for a H2A, TN or any visa, people must physically go to their consulate. With that option unavailable, these professionals are not able to get into the U.S. to help fill these gaps.
“NPPC is working to receive a declaration that agriculture is an essential service and these caretakers are essential to ensure our high-quality protein reaches consumers,” Sorenson says.
Obtaining the federal and state support needed to run farms and care for livestock during this time is critical. In the short-term, she says the industry needs TN visa employees to be able to be declared as emergency visas, so they can get into the U.S. Agriculture also needs to be declared an essential service to the country.
“This is key to helping us with other infrastructure challenges like supply, transportation and labor,” Sorenson says. “For example, in Iowa, we are working on essential worker designation at a state level. If livestock caretakers were deemed essential, it would qualify employees for a number of exemptions, including alternative daycare. That would be mirrored on a federal level.”
Agriculture in general, but especially the pork industry, is working to ensure we have a labor supply, operational support and transportation support to avoid the interruption of the pork production cycle.
“We’re also concerned about availability and transport of supplies such as boot products, coveralls, disinfectants, cotton products and consumable supplies on a farm that are essential to animal care and our biosecurity standards,” Sorenson says.
How do we support our workforce? ...