The U.S. pork industry can continue to be a leader in food production and meet domestic and world demand for pork as long as exports continue to grow, feed grains are available and producers are allowed to operate without undue legislative and regulatory burdens. That was the testimony of National Pork Producers Council President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wisconsin, before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry. He noted that the U.S. pork industry is doing well but has concerns.
While exports have been a boon to the U.S. pork industry, Wolf said the industry will not stay in that position if competitor countries cut trade deals in key markets and the United States does not. NPPC urged lawmakers to approve the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the deals, when fully implemented, will generate more than $770 million in additional pork exports, increase hog prices by more than $11 per head and create more than 10,000 jobs.
At question is whether domestic policies will hamper producers' ability to operate? Wolf pointed to two issues: the availability of feed for animals and the USDA's proposed regulation on buying and selling livestock - the GIPSA rule. Wolf added that tight feed-grain supplies, driven in part by subsidized ethanol production, could cause spot shortages of feed this year. And the GIPSA rule, according to one study, would cost the pork industry nearly $400 million annually, forcing producers like him out of business.