Five representatives from the Oklahoma Pork Council traveled to Washington, D.C. for three days as part of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference.
While there, Roy Lee Lindsey, okPORK executive director, Lindsay Henricks, okPORK communications specialist, Joe Popplewell, okPORK board member, Dottie King, okPORK board member, and Tina Falcon, Oklahoma pork producer and past okPORK board member, conducted several meetings, with members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation
Key issues discussed during those meetings were: visa reform to support a viable workforce for U.S. agriculture, the importance of positive trade relations, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), keeping food affordable by allowing producers the opportunity to choose their production methods and export relations with Thailand.
This two-day event allowed the okPORK representatives the chance to join fellow producers from across the states in the United States Capitol.
“The one-on-one conversations held with our Oklahoma congressional members, and their staff, gave us an opportunity to advocate for our industry and get in front of issues that impact us,” said Lindsey.
The U.S. pork industry is suffering from a serious labor shortage that undermines its commitment to the highest standards of animal care. Current visa programs widely used by pork producers are not effectively addressing the issue. Without visa reform to support a viable workforce for U.S. agriculture, animal welfare is jeopardized, and production costs will increase, leading to higher food prices for consumers.
Losing the NAFTA agreement would cost the United States pork industry $1.5 billion. Over the past 10 years, on average, the United States has been the No. 1 exporter of pork in the world. Trade is vital to the livelihood of pig farmers nationwide.
A farmer’s ability to choose the production method that maximizes productivity, increases sustainability, reduces disease exposure and improves the health and welfare of his or her animals is critical to the pork industry’s success. Our industry is in favor of letting the farmer choose his or her production method.
Currently Thailand has a number of trade barriers that operate as a de facto ban on U.S. pork exports. Pork producers in the United States would like to see Thailand expeditiously open its market to U.S. pork, knowing their significant per capita pork consumption. Positive trade relations with Thailand would be beneficial to both countries.
okPORK also teamed up with the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association while on the trip for a visit to the Environmental Protection Agency to speak with E.P.A Administrator, Scott Pruitt, to discuss important environmental issues facing the cattle and swine industries.