At the 2011 National Pork Industry Forum, 130 producer delegates of the National Pork Producers Council debated 24 resolutions addressing such issues as the proposed GIPSA rule, feedgrain supplies, ethanol, immigration reform and more. Pork Forum hosts separate annual business meetings of NPPC and the National Pork Board.

The decisions set the course for NPPC’s legislative, regulatory and public policy directions for the year ahead. NPPC operates on a voluntary membership basis and receives no checkoff funding.   

In the end, delegates approved 14 resolutions at their 3-day meeting held in Phoenix, Ariz., March 3-5.

Several addressed business and marketing contracts, as well as pricing mechanisms and, of course, ethanol and feed grain issues. Here’s a look at the resolutions that the delegates approved:

  • Two resolutions addressed USDA’s proposed GIPSA rule and the apparent overreach from the five points outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill. One resolution advises NPPC to oppose the current proposed GIPSA rule. The other wants USDA to honor the farm bill’s directive and to provide specific guidance within the rule regarding criteria to determine when a producer has received undue or unreasonable preference in a contract arrangement; allow sufficient time for a grower to remedy a breach of contract; define when a requirement of additional capital investment during the life of a contract would constitute a Packers & Stockyards’ Act violation as an unfair practice; outline factors that make up a fair use of arbitration.
  • Encourage producers and packers to negotiate a portion of their market hog sales and purchases on a monthly basis. Also that NPPC continues to oppose legislation and regulations that restrict producers’ marketing opportunities.

As of 2010, only 5.1 percent of the hogs were sold on the spot market, which is used to set the base value of hogs throughout the market. There is no set percentage as to what’s the right level of sales, but economic research suggests that as spot market quotes decline, the likelihood that an accurate  value representation of hogs and pork also declines. “The more transactions you have, the more confidence you can have on the price,” said Doug Wolf, NPPC’s newly elected president.

  • A resolution instructed NPPC to continue to work to on market price discovery and reporting transparency, and keep government regulations to a minimum in this area.
  •  NPPC support adding an Ag Marketing Service estimate of net price to the base prices that are already reported in daily and prior-day purchased swine price reports.

“We report on a base price, but pay on a net price,” said Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics. “One report looks back and one reports forward. USDA has indicated that it’s willing to do this.”

“This would not replace a report, it would add data that’s already available,” noted Chuck Wirtz, a producer delegate from Iowa. The consensus is that it would increase the data’s value and accuracy.

  • Corn usage and supplies received a lot of debate. The delegates passed a resolution instructing NPPC to develop a contingency plan in the event feed-stock supplies tighten to a point that threatens producers’ ability to meet their responsibility to feed their livestock.

“It’s important that we get our (feed-grain) consumer partners (ethanol and exports) at the table and negotiate a ‘what-if’ scenario in case there is a severe shortage-- and hope we don’t have to use it,” said Leon Sheets, an Iowa delegate. “We don’t want the government making the decision.”

  • The delegates approved a resolution that reaffirmed NPPC’s policy to support efforts to allow the ethanol blenders’ tax credit as well as the import tariff on corn-based ethanol to expire.
  • Urge USDA to allow “non-sensitive” Conservation Reserve Program acres to be released for use in cellulosic ethanol production. This is roughly estimated at 4 million to 5 million acres.
  • Urge USDA to publish the final rule on implementing the new Animal Traceability Program prior to March 2012.

The current plan calls for the proposed rule to be completed by April 2011, with the final rule ready 12 to 15 months later.

“It is urgent that this moves ahead and does not get delayed,” Bob Dykhuis, a producer delegate from Michigan. Given other species opposition to animal ID, USDA is avoiding making a decision. “They are kicking the can down the road, and ID is critical to protecting the health of the U.S. herd,” says Howard Hill, DVM, Iowa Select Farms and NPPC board member.

  • The delegates unanimously approved a resolution directing NPPC to accelerate its leadership and activity in developing a national coalition/alliance and strategies to proactively address attacks on animal agriculture.

This further supports NPPC’s involvement with the newly developed U.S. Farm and Ranch Alliance. The National Pork Board also is a founding member.

  • Urge USDA to finalize the rule called for in the 2008 Farm Bill, which would allow state-inspected meat products to move via interstate commerce.
  • Support immigration rules that “treat all countries the same,” including securing U.S. borders, followed by a guest-worker registration program allowing migrant workers to enter and leave the United States legally.
  • That NPPC strongly engage in the 2012 Farm Bill development.

Next year’s National Pork Industry forum will be held March 1-3 in Denver, Colo.