As we come to the close of another year, I look back at 2021 as a good year for the pork industry. Exports have been strong and domestic consumer demand continues to be good with bacon leading the pork cuts. Hog numbers are down and packing plants are back to near normal line speed. At the state level, it is good to see the Missouri State Fair open and showing off the best of Missouri Ag.

With that said, we do have issues confronting the pork sector. The big issue is African Swine Fever (ASF). Since breaking in China 3 years ago, it has spread across Asia and parts of Europe. This is one of the reasons for strong exports. In July, ASF moved to a new elevated level when the Dominican Republic was confirmed with ASF. This is the first case in 40 years in the western hemisphere. Dealing with ASF is a coordinated effort between USDA, NPB, NPPC, state producer associations and their vets. After the supply chain issue of 2020, everyone realizes that if a FAD event occurs we will not be prepared.

The U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) had its first delegate meeting in August to develop guidelines for monitoring the health of the US pork production. Also, we are working on increasing USDA Customs and Border Protection Ag Inspectors and increases in APHIS vet staff and National Animal Health Network labs. NPB and NPPC are working in these areas along with others to maximize efforts to keep ASF out of the country.

The pork industry, along with many other businesses, is having major labor issues increasing the need for foreign labor. We need a reform of the H-2A visa program to include non-seasonal labor that would fit the needs of the pork industry.

Legal challenges to the way in which we raise our pigs are becoming a never ending affair. Because of Prop 12, WOTUS, etc, I strongly encourage all sectors of the pork industry to support NPB and NPPC with your time and financial support through SIP for NPPC. A task force of state producers and executives has provided direction on priorities and where the funding is needed to accomplish these priorities. The two boards are meeting in mid December to go over these recommendations.

We, in Missouri, are very fortunate to have a great staff that takes care of the day to day needs of the Association. Others have also noticed. Don Nikodim was awarded the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award at the 2021 Pork Industry Forum. Don does a great job of working with other state and national pork industry leaders along with other ag commodity groups in Missouri. Diane Slater received her honorary American Degree from the National FFA Organization. Diane is always trying new ways to engage consumers to try pork and increase the public image of producers. Both have given 110% effort and are highly regarded in the pork industry.

As we work hard to produce quality pork at a profit, let us take time during the Christmas season to enjoy our family and friends and be thankful for these relationships.

Respectfully, your MPA Chairman,

Don Laut, Jr.