January 19, 2018

National Pork Producers Council Supports New Pork Inspection Model from USDA

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new pork processing inspection rule, a decision strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council. As a result, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) HACCP Inspection Model (HIMP) will be expanded from five current pilot locations to full-scale implementation.

“We support the USDA’s decision to advance HIMP as it introduces new pork production efficiencies while encouraging the deployment of new food safety technologies in packing plants,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois. “The pilot program yielded very positive results; expanding the program is another step forward in the industry’s ongoing focus on continuous improvement of food safety and cost efficiency.”

The new inspection model, subject to a 60-day comment period, assigns increased inspection responsibility to plant operators, allowing the USDA to dedicate its resources to general oversight of food safety standards and the overall inspection process. Plants can choose to adopt the HIMP model or continue operating under the current inspection system.

Maschhoff added, “The U.S. pork industry is the most competitive in the world because we have built a reputation for quality, affordability and food safety. We applaud the USDA for taking this step to strengthen our competitive position.”

NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.

Assistance Available to Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program

CSPAgricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.

While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018 to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:

  • Improved cattle gains per acre;
  • Increased crop yields;
  • Decreased inputs;
  • Wildlife population improvements; and
  • Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Rural Nebraska’s Low SNAP Enrollment Examined in White Paper

SNAPThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides food assistance to 1 in 7 Americans, and 1 in 11 Nebraskans. Today, the Center for Rural Affairs released a white paper examining “A Discrepancy in Rural Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”

The white paper is by Jordan Rasmussen, policy program associate.

“In rural Nebraska, where food is grown to meet the needs of the nation and the world, food security is a challenge for some residents,” Rasmussen said. “SNAP, formerly referred to as the nation’s food stamp program, exists to alleviate the prevalence of food insecurity. Yet, in rural areas of the state, participation in SNAP remains low, despite socio-economic shifts that have increased need.”

Nationally, SNAP participation in rural areas is 16 percent, exceeding the urban and rural national average.  However, in Nebraska, participation in rural areas is 7.6 percent.

“As policymakers deliberate the funding and future of SNAP, federally – in the 2018 farm bill and in tax reform and debate – as well as at the state level, consideration must be given to the use and underutilization of the program,” Rasmussen said. “SNAP is a critical safeguard against food insecurity and poverty for millions of rural and urban residents alike.”

The author takes a look at participation in households with children and seniors. In Nebraska, 74 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; and 1.9 percent of households are home to a SNAP recipient over the age of 60.

“In rural Nebraska, SNAP assistance received by senior households is misaligned with the percentage of poverty for the area,” Rasmussen said. “This discrepancy demonstrates the need for SNAP exists in rural communities, and further efforts should be made to help close this gap on monetary food insecurity assistance in rural areas.”

The author suggests that effort be made by Nebraska agencies and organizations to improve participation rates in rural areas through expanded outreach and education.

“This is particularly important for the state’s rural children and the growing number of seniors living in rural locations as they age,” Rasmussen said. “The challenge of food security is not bound by a rural or urban delineation; access and utilization of SNAP to address the challenge of food security should not be either.”

To view a copy of “A Discrepancy in Rural Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” visit www.cfra.org/publication/NebraskaSNAP.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.