Nebraska pork industry leaders joined 125 counterparts from across the country in Washington, D.C., on September 11 and 12 to participate in the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Fall Legislative Action Conference (LAC). The program featured several NPPC staff and pork industry representatives updating producers on pending and emerging issues facing the U.S. pork industry.
This year’s LAC was critical to aggressively advocate for a number of issues: trade, Farm Bill implementation, African Swine Fever (ASF) and labor visa reform. Participants also received updates on many other matters including gene-editing regulation, cell cultured protein, and current litigation.
Following NPPC’s “Lobby Issues Briefing Session,” producers were encouraged to head to Capitol Hill for congressional visits. John Csukker, president elect of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA), and Russ Vering, NPPC board member, joined Mark Wright, McCyla Mickelson, Jacob Bonwell, Aaron Holiday, Allison Zabel and Zach Lubeck to visit Nebraska’s congressional delegation.
“I really appreciate our senators and representatives in Washington, D.C.,” said Russ Vering, past NPPA president and NPPC board member. “They are always willing to listen to our topics and issues. Our trip focused on trade, most importantly. USMCA is very important and ready to be voted on.”
Vering said other congressional discussions focused on the security of the U.S. pork supply from ASF. “The spread of the disease in Asia and Europe is of high concern,” he said. “Our very important ask is for the U.S. government to employ more border inspectors and prevent the introduction of ASF into the U.S. and North America.”
Gene editing was another important point of discussion with Nebraska’s congressional members. “Gene editing technology is a must-win for the pork industry,” John Csukker said. “Congress needs to act soon. I urge Nebraska pork producers to contact their representative and senators to make sure their voices are heard, since we have their ears somewhat during the upcoming election year.”
Csukker stressed that it is important for gene-editing oversight to be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rather than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), since the FDA would
likely impose more stringent regulations. “The USDA has the infrastructure and processes already for gene-editing plants, which can be adopted to livestock,” he explained.