As 2014 sets up to be a profitable year for pork producers, constant environmental management, animal welfare pressures and looming federal regulations bring uncertainty to today’s modern production systems. Not only are federal regulations tightening, but opponents of animal agriculture have strengthened their armies.
"Farmers have the trust of the American people and don’t deserve the onslaught that they face from groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that have deep pockets from deceptive fundraising practices," says Randy Spronk, an Edgerton, Minn., pork producer and president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Below are a few issues that could make waves for pork producers in 2014.
Pollutant Discharge: EPA has proposed an E-Reporting Rule, which impacts Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). This rule requires National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit holders, certain CAFOs without permits and agencies that manage NPDES programs to report NPDES information electronically.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and NPPC are in litigation to keep EPA from unlawfully disseminating farmers’ personal information through the Freedom of Information Act. "We are sticking up for farmers and ranchers whose personal information would end up in the public domain," says Bob Stallman, AFBF president. "This lawsuit is about the government’s unjustified intrusion into citizens’ private lives."
Gestation Stalls: After McDonald’s announced its plan to phase out crates in February 2012, Burger King, Safeway, Costco, Cracker Barrel, Sodexo and about 50 other food retailers followed suit. After eight supermarket chains in Canada made a similar announcement, the National Farm Animal Care Council, a semi-governmental standard-setting body in the country, issued a preliminary plan to ban new construction of gestation crates in 2014 and to phase out current crates, as well. That means all 10 Canadian provinces might phase out gestation crates, if the policy is made final.
In the U.S., New Jersey lawmakers aligned with legislators in nine other states and overwhelmingly voted to ban gestation crates. Surprisingly, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed that bill. Now HSUS is launching a $150,000 campaign in the state asking lawmakers to uphold their original determination on this legislation.
During the last decade, HSUS has increased awareness of problems caused by restrictive crates in the meat and poultry industries. Several states, including Florida and California, have passed laws banning the use of restrictive crates in meat and egg production.
Antibiotics: In December, FDA announced the final Guidance 213 and proposed rule changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Guidance 213 asks veterinary drug companies to voluntarily remove growth promotion labels from antibiotics important to human medicine and to increase oversight of therapeutic uses. The VFD rule expands veterinary oversight of antibiotics added to animal feed.
Farm Journal Media’s new advocacy series, America’s Agriculture Challenge, provides information about external influences such as overreaching regulations, policymakers, courts and activists that impact their operations—and potentially endanger the future of their farms. The multimedia editorial campaign educates and motivates producers to interact with legislators, regulators and consumers to help them understand why agriculture needs the resources and runway to maximize productivity, exercise stewardship and secure our food supply.
To find resources and links to help you get started in making your voice heard, visit www.agweb.com/agriculture_challenge.