Pork producers call for border inspector funding
The National Pork Producers Council on Thursday said the discovery of African swine fever cases in Germany intensifies the need for Congress to fund U.S. border inspection before leaving Washington for the campaign trail.
In a call to reporters following the group’s virtual fly-in, NPPC officials noted that U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at ports of entry, which are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program user fees, will soon run out of money because the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel have led to a drop in user fees.
“Without a prompt resolution, there will be an estimated $630 million shortfall in AQI funding through the end of fiscal year 2021,” NPPC President Howard Roth, a Wisconsin producer, told reporters.
“It is imperative that this funding shortfall be addressed to protect the U.S. swine herd and all of agriculture from foreign animal and plant diseases.”
China, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines have all banned German pork and the United States could face the same situation if African swine fever enters the country, Roth noted.
The need to fund border inspection is important to all of agriculture, not just the pork industry, Roth added.
If Congress passes what’s known as a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government at the same level in fiscal 2021 as in fiscal 2020, that CR would not provide more money for the inspectors, Nick Giordano, an NPPC vice president, noted. If Congress does not include the border inspection money in the CR then it should include it soon in another bill, he said.
“We need to secure our borders,” Giordano said.
During the virtual fly-in, the pork producers told members of Congress that a coronavirus aid bill should include money for hog producers who have killed or donated hogs because they could not find slaughterhouses to take them. The pork producers also asked that there be no payment limitations for producers for that program.
Giordano also said that pork producers of all sizes have gone out of business or just stopped raising hogs as part of the operations, but NPPC does not have any figures on the number of farmers no longer producing hogs.
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Market Intel service also issued a report on the implications of Germany’s African swine fever for global pork trade.
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