Court ruling will hurt Iowa pig farmers

Court order will reduce plant capacity by as much as 25% at six plants.


Trent Thiele, KMAX Farms

via National Hog Farmer - Jun 04, 2021


The past few years have been incredibly difficult for hog farmers like me. For more than two years, we lost pork sales in many global markets due to trade retaliation that limited our ability to compete effectively around the globe. Then, 2020 brought the COVID-19 pandemic that unleashed unprecedented challenges for the entire food supply chain. Now, just as we are finally returning to normal, another challenge is rearing its head.


A recent federal court decision—which takes effect on June 29—struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. NSIS, initiated during the Clinton administration and evaluated at five pilot plants over 20 years, was approved for industry-wide adoption in 2019. NSIS modernized an inspection system that had remained unchanged for more than 50 years.


At a time when the United States is seeking to increase much-needed pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity by as much as 25% at six plants running at NSIS line speeds. The five original plants, which have been running at NSIS line speeds over the life of the program, have been safely operating for more than 20 years.


NSIS has no partisan history, and its legal challenge was based on an alleged omission about procedures. The ruling was not made due to evidence of a threat to worker safety.


Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), along with Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), are...