National Pork Producers Council Spring Legislative Action Conference

posted on Friday, April 13, 2018

“If we don’t take the time to show up, share what we know as swine veterinarians, talk about how we care for our animals and have an open conversation about what we need to keep herds healthy, then we run the risk of someone else influencing the political process,” said Katie Wedel, DVM with Iowa Select Farms. “And they may not have ever stepped foot on a farm.”

Dr. Wedel, along with 12 other pork producers and veterinarians from Iowa, sat down with Iowa Congressional members to discuss issues of importance to swine veterinarians and pork producers. Visits were held with Representative Steve King, Representative Rod Blum, Representative David Young, Representative Dave Loebsack, Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst during the National Pork Producers Council Spring Legislative Action Conference.

Dr. Wedel is a member of this year’s National Pork Producers Council’s Swine Veterinarian Public Policy and Advocacy Program, intended to expose swine veterinarians to policy issues affecting the pork industry.

Dr. Wedel was in Washington D.C. for three days, learning about how federal policy is made, the impact of technical issues on international trade and how to communicate effectively with lawmakers and regulatory officials. Also on the trip was Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms and an NPPC board member.

The timing of the visit could not be more critical, as the pork industry is asking for lawmaker’s help in funding a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Bank in the next Farm Bill. “An outbreak in the US of this foreign animal disease would cripple the entire ag sector,” said Dr. Wedel. “We are ill-prepared, and need a better FMD vaccine bank established to quickly contain and eradicate an outbreak.”

Currently the USDA’s Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service manages a vaccine bank at Plum Island, where vaccine concentrate for FMD is stored. “There are so few doses we might not be able to vaccinate more than a handful of swine dense counties," said Dr. Wedel.

Dr. Wedel also talked to lawmakers about concerns livestock producers and haulers have with the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Mandate and the ag labor shortage, especially in rural communities where agriculture and food production exists.

“Everything we do as pork producers revolves around the daily care and health and well-being of our animals, and any laws and regulations have to take those into account,” said Dr. Wedel.