FAIRMONT- During a meeting of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agribusiness Committee Tuesday night Brad Schmidt, Regional Director of Producer Services at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) presented a keynote presentation. The organization is a trade association that represents American pork producers and advocates on behalf of the industry towards legislative, regulatory and international bodies.
As regional director Schmidt helps coordinate the operations of the NPPC in Minnesota.
“I work with Minnesota producers on policy related questions and concerns, making sure that we’re doing things on the national levels as well as the state level to make life easier and beneficial for pork producers here in the state,” said Schmidt.
The NPPC is funded by voluntary contributions collected by affiliate state organizations and focuses on three primary areas; expanding overseas markets, pushing for favorable legislation and regulation and opposing ballot initiatives and other measures that would restrict the operations of pork producers.
In the area of global trade Schmidt said the organization helped make it easier to export pork in 2022, such as when the Philippines extended its reduced pork tariff rates through 2023 and when the federal government passed a law intended to lower international ocean shipping costs. Currently the NPPC is encouraging the federal government and foreign governments to implement free trade agreements and reduce restrictions on exporting pork to countries in South America and Southeast Asia.
An outbreak of African Swine Flu in the United States is a major concern for the NPPC and Schmidt highlighted the organization’s work in 2022 when it encouraged Congress to include improved prevention protocols in the recent farm bill and passage of a bill that helps train Beagles to detect foreign animal diseases entering the county in airport luggage.
While the United States has yet to report any cases of African Swine Flu (AFS), the NPPC is concerned with the possibility of it spilling over from the Dominican Republic to neighboring Florida or Puerto Rico. As a result the organization is encouraging importers of American pork to implement trade policy that processes Minnesotan pork differently compared to pork which originates in areas of the county with cases of ASF. To help improve a response to a future outbreak of animal disease the organization is advocating for an increase in stockpiled funds, vaccines and veterinary supplies provided by state and federal governments.
However the NPPC is opposed to a variety of other initiatives related to animal welfare. Currently the organization is appealing Proposition 12, 2018 California ballot initiative that prevents pork from being sold in the state if it comes from animals that aren’t provided with certain amounts of living space. In Minnesota the NPPC is opposed to expanding state grant assistance which provides funding to replace gestation stalls with open pen housing.
“We don’t feel that one practice is greater than the other. We want producers to have the choice of their own,” said Schmidt.
In Minnesota Schmidt said the NPPC is also opposed to proposed changes to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that would reinstitute a citizen board which would have final authority regarding the agency’s environmental review and permitting process and it’s opposed to changes to the state Board of Animal Health which would create a separate body specializing in companion animals such as cats and dogs.
To improve the productivity of meatpacking facilities the NPPC wants the government to allow more seasonal agricultural workers into the United States on H-2A visas and increase line speeds.
This was the committee’s first meeting since January; it originally planned to meet in February but was forced to cancel it meeting due to inclement weather.