Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) along with Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging the Administration to pursue all legal actions to push back on a recent U.S. district court decision that will slow swine inspection line speeds starting June 30, resulting in massive financial harm to independent American hog farmers.
This recent court decision vacated a portion of the USDA New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule relating to line speeds at NSIS packing plants. By removing this provision six plants will be forced to reduce their output, and by extension, their purchase of hogs.
“While the economic impact to these packers will be significant, it is the nation’s small and medium-sized hog farmers who will suffer the greatest harm from upstream impacts. It is imperative that USDA act quickly, and pursue all available options, to prevent this reduction in packing capacity which is set to take place at the end of June,” the members wrote to USDA Secretary Vilsack and DOJ Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar
“As the hog production cycle spans nearly a year, hogs set to enter this reduced-capacity market are already being raised. Farmers have little ability to alter their supply in the next year. Many farmers supplying these NSIS plants will need to find alternative destinations for their hogs.
The resulting surplus and reduced demand in a concentrated geographic region will shift economic power to pork processing companies. The culmination of economic losses from the pandemic, multiple years of trade retaliation, and the court’s decision may result in some producers selling their operation. By failing to act, USDA will drive consolidation in the pork industry,” the members continued.
In addition to Grassley, Hagedorn and Johnson, the letter is signed by 70 members of Congress.