Pork producers pick new officers, lay out priorities

The National Pork Producers Council announced its new officers and members named to its board of directors at its National Pork Industry Forum, held in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jen Sorenson was introduced as the 2021-2022 NPPC president. For the past decade, Sorenson has been with Iowa Select Farms, an Iowa farming business that markets more than 5 million hogs per year. She grew up on a livestock farm, raising pigs and row crops. In addition to serving on NPPC’s board, Sorenson chairs NPPC’s Labor Security Task Force. Sorenson takes over from Howard “A.V.” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin, who becomes NPPC immediate past president and chairman of the council’s trade and nominating committees.

Sorenson laid out the NPPC’s top priorities for the coming year. No 1 was continuing the fight against California’s Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, which amends the state health and safety code to require certain conditions and space requirements for calves, egg-laying hens and breeding sows. The NPPC has pointed out that while California makes up 15% of the pork market, it has no significant hog industry to speak of and is trying, unconstitutionally, to regulate hog production in other states. The NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation are suing over the law; the case is currently underway in the Ninth Circuit. “We expect this to be a long legal battle,” said Sorenson.

Regarding worker safety, Sorenson said “Nothing is more important.” The meatpacking industry, she said, has already invested $1.5 billion in worker safety measures. She said the new administration should be careful not to require mandates for issues that have already been addressed.

Other top priorities are the continuing effort to get compensation for hog producers who were forced to euthanize hogs during the early days of the pandemic, when hog production was backlogged.

The NPPC was pleased, she said, to see the administration address immigration reform, also a top priority of the NPPC.

The NPPC will also continue its efforts to open up promising new markets for U.S. pork, including the Philippines and Vietnam. These are countries with huge appetites for quality pork, which are recovering from African swine fever. On that topic, Sorenson said the industry has asked the administration for funding for 760 additional ag inspectors for the Customs and Border Patrol that have already been authorized in previous farm bills.

Terry Wolters of Pipestone, Minnesota, was elevated to president-elect. Wolters owns Stoney Creek Farms, where he has ownership in several sow farms and is a partner in Pipestone System. He is also a member of Wholestone Farms and is active in the Pipestone County Pork Producers Association, Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the South Dakota Pork Producers. He is chairman of NPPC’s Animal Health Food Security Policy Committee and also a member of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Scott Hays of Monroe City, Missouri, was elected as NPPC vice president. He is a fifth-generation pork producer, the CEO of Two Mile Pork LLC and chairman of NPPC’s Competitive Markets Committee. He is active on the Missouri Pork Association Board and committees, Missouri Corn Growers, Farm Bureau, Missouri Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow, Monroe City FFA, and Missouri Institute of Cooperatives.

Rob Brenneman of Washington, Iowa, and Jeb Stevens of Osgood, Ind., were elected as new board members.

Delegates at the NPPC’s forum passed two resolutions, including one supporting the CME Group’s Pork Cutout contract, which was introduced in November 2020. “NPPC fully supports the new contract as another risk management option, in addition to the Lean Hog contract. It plays a key role in enhancing market visibility, which is so important to maintaining a highly competitive and innovative pork production system in the United States,” the group said in a press release.

Delegates also passed a resolution to delay an increase to the contribution rate of NPPC’s strategic investment program until July 2022.

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].