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NPPC responds to Pew Commission report


May 1, 2008
By Marg Land

May 1, 2008, Washington, DC – The
Pew Commission report overlooks the progress pork producers have made
addressing challenges, says the National Pork Producers’ Council.

May 1, 2008, Washington, DC – The National Pork Producers’ Council (NPPC) believes that if recommendations issued by the Pew Commission are implemented, the cost of producing food animals will rise and meat prices will increase, adding to the current global food crisis.

The $3.4 million, two-year study by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production overlooked the substantial progress made by U.S. pork producers in addressing all of those issues, said the NPPC.

“Pork producers have taken extensive steps over the last decade to meet various industry challenges,” said NPPC president Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “We constantly are looking for better ways to raise our pigs, including protecting them from diseases, and we always have been good stewards of the land, air and water that we use.”

Data from eight of the top 10 swine-producing states show, for example, that since 2000 less than one percent of hog farms have had a manure release. Additionally, NPPC pointed out, a tough new federal water pollution regulation covering CAFOs, which is due out late this summer, will protect water supplies from pollution from all large livestock operations by imposing a zero-discharge policy. Most swine CAFOs already comply with the rule.

“With the discharge issues largely addressed, it is hard to argue that large pork operations threaten human health, but more research is needed,” said Black. “As for our operations’ affects on air, the concentration of emissions outside our buildings is well below the established, available public-health standards.”

NPPC added that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently commissioned a first-of-its-kind, livestock industry-supported study to determine the level of air pollution from all types of livestock operations. Findings from the two-year study, which began last summer, will provide the foundation for developing ways to ensure that air emissions from livestock operations don’t harm the environment.

On the issue of animal antibiotics, NPPC noted that a ban on sub-therapeutic drugs – which the commission recommended – would lead to more pig deaths from disease and an increase in the use of post-therapeutic drugs. Both would lead to a rise in pork prices.

NPPC disputed the commission’s characterization that large animal feeding operations are bad for the rural economy, pointing out that pork operations alone are major contributors to farm communities, generating more than 550,000 mostly rural jobs and contributing an estimated $20.7 billion of personal income and $34.5 billion of gross national product to the economy.

The organization also questioned the objectivity of the commission, whose work was directed by the Center for a Livable Future, which is part of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Among the center’s projects is “Meatless Mondays.”

“There was a lack of balance among commission members, and the commission’s work was directed by a group unfriendly to animal agriculture,” said Black. “As a result, in its deliberations, the commission did not give adequate weight to the views of the numerous credible voices from within commercial animal agriculture who share the commission’s objectives for a livestock sector that is protective of the environment, food safety, public health and animal welfare.

“Lastly, it’s hard for us to react to the substance of the commission report because it failed to issue all but one of its technical papers,” added Black. “The lack of serious, fact-based findings and apparent reliance on numerous anecdotal, non-peer reviewed allegations only confirms our perception that the report recommendations were largely predetermined.”


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