Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director at okPORK traveled to Washington, D.C., for two days as part of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference.
Lindsey conducted several meetings, with members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation.
Key issues discussed during those meetings were: the need to support a viable workforce for U.S. agriculture, the importance of positive trade relations, and the potential impact of African Swine Fever to the United States.
This two-day event gives pork producers from all over the county the chance to join together in the United States Capitol.
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 the support of a viable workforce for U.S. agriculture, animal welfare is jeopardized, and production costs will increase, leading to higher food prices for consumers.
Trade certainly matters to pig farmers in Oklahoma and while in D.C. Lindsey asked members of Congress to urge the administration to act on these four export related matters:
1. Lifting metal tariffs on Mexico and Canada and restoring zero tariff access for U.S. pork in our largest export market.
2. Ending trade disputes with China that are limiting export opportunities at a time when the world’s largest pork consuming nation is seeking reliable suppliers of pork.
3. Completing and delivering for ratification to Congress a trade deal with Japan, at a time when new trade agreements Japan has formed with other countries are threatening the U.S. pork market.
4. Ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to secure our long-term zero tariff pork trade in North America.
Last, but certainly not least, on April 10, NPPC cancelled the 2019 World Pork Expo out of an abundance of caution as African swine fever (ASF) spreads in China and surrounding countries. The timing of that message while our pork leaders were on Capitol Hill further conveyed the angst of our farmers in the state, and beyond. Farmers urged congressional support for appropriations funding for 600 new Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen our defenses against ASF.