NPPC to hold World Pork Expo in June, says members getting vaccinated

The National Pork Producers Council will sponsor an in-person World Pork Expo in June in Iowa, NPPC officials said Thursday, April 15, adding that all needed COVID-19 protocols will be followed and that they believe their members are getting vaccinated.

The event will be held June 9 to 11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

“This decision did not come lightly. It was very carefully considered,” Jen Sorenson, an Iowan who is NPPC president, said in a briefing for reporters on the group’s virtual fly-in to Washington.

Sorenson noted that Industry participants value the in-person expo because they get together to do business, adopt innovations and network at the event.

NPPC officials said they have no statistics about whether their members are getting the COVID-19 shots, but that they had no knowledge of a member declining to get vaccinated.

NPPC CEO Neil Dierks said he has had several conversations with members in which they have said they have just had a first or second shot. Even though surveys have shown that rural residents, particularly Republican and evangelical men, are resistant to getting vaccinated, Dierks said he believes pork producers are getting the vaccine because vaccinating animals against disease is “part of the culture of the industry.”

NPPC officials noted that both the national organization and state pork groups have mounted campaigns to encourage pork producers to make sure their employees are vaccinated, and believe that the owners of the operations are getting vaccinated along with them.

Jim Monroe, an NPPC spokesman, said that the trade show will include social distancing measures and hand-washing stations. Asked whether the Pork Expo would require certificates of vaccination, tests for COVID-19, or temperature checks, the officials did not respond directly but said the expo will follow government recommendations at the time of the event.

Sorenson said that during the fly-in, NPPC officials urged members of Congress to:

▪ Sign a letter urging Trade Representative Katherine Tai to negotiate with Vietnamese officials about easing access for U.S. pork. NPPC officials said that U.S. pork faces a 15% tariff, double that of products from the European Union and countries that have signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that developed after the Trump administration withdrew from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Obama administration had developed.

▪ Address labor reform that opens the H-2A visa program to year round labor and provides for legal status for agricultural workers already in the United States. Sorenson said the industry needs foreign workers because not that many Americans live near hog farms and rural populations are declining.

▪ Support a full appropriation of $635 million for 720 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors, $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and tighter regulations on the importation of rescue dogs from countries with foreign animal diseases that could hurt U.S. livestock.


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