New USDA Rule Allows for Increased Line Speeds

USDA in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier this year, a Federal Appeals Court in Minnesota struck down a Trump-era USDA rule that would have made increased line speeds on pork processing plants legal, on the heels of 20 years of safe and practical pilot projects.

The decision, considered by the pork industry to be disastrous at a time of supply chain disruptions, was made based upon a technicality whereby the Administration failed to show the consideration of worker safety in promulgating the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) final rule.

According to Iowa State University Livestock economist Dermot Hayes, nearly 3 percent of domestic harvest capacity was lost on July 1, 2021.

On Friday, however, USDA rolled out a proposal to let certain plants run at higher line speeds and explicitly allows nine plants that adopted the 2019 NSIS plan may now apply for a one-year trial program using increased line speeds.

The National Pork Producers Council today commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture for allowing some pork packing plants to run faster line speeds, a move that could increase packing capacity and alleviate supply issues in the face of strong demand.

“We’re very pleased with USDA’s proposal to let certain plants run at higher line speeds, which will allow more hogs to be harvested and more pork to get to consumers,” said National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Jen Sorenson. “This is particularly important now given the strong demand for pork, supply chain problems, and our industry’s packing capacity constraints.”

Since the court’s decision, NPPC has been urging the Biden administration to reinstate the use of faster line speeds either by appealing the court ruling, issuing new rulemaking, or exercising its waiver authority. Since the court ruling, several members of Congress have been engaged with the Administration in an effort to ensure producers’ concerns were ultimately addressed.
(SOURCE: All Ag News)

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