WASHINGTON, DC – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is reporting that USDA may allow harvesting line speeds at pork packing plants to increase, under a proposal being considered by the White House.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has come under scrutiny by the pork producers for failing to address the issue after a federal court ruled in March that the operating speeds outlined under the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) were against the law.
Specifically, the court said the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provisions failed muster under a technicality, as opposed to being unsafe for workers.
The increased line speeds have been practiced by five plants for the past 20 years under a pilot project, but Vilsack recently told members of the House Agriculture Committee that he can’t overturn the judge’s decision. Instead, a new proposal under consideration now appears to not only have the support of the NPPC but also of the workers union that stopped the previous rule (United Food and Commercial Workers or UFCW).
Since rolling back the line speeds, NPPC says the industry lost about 2.5 percent of its packing capacity and reduced economic leverage from hog producers.
(SOURCE: All Ag News)