Study shows court decision on pork processor line speeds hurts small producers


Study shows court decision on pork processor line speeds hurts small producers

An economist says a court decision taking away a pork processor’s ability to establish maximum line processing speeds will hurt small pork producers.

Dr. Dermot Hayes from Iowa State tells Brownfield slowing down the line speeds will lose 2.5% of harvest capacity, force plants to use more mandatory overtime, and reduce competition.  Hayes tells Brownfield that lost 2.5% will hurt the smaller pork producers the most. “The issue that I’m concerned about is that this fall, we were going to be pretty close to capacity and this may push us overcapacity. When that happens, the spot market prices can really tank.”

In his report, Hayes says smaller producers will likely bear the burden of spot price reductions and increased shipping costs to distant processors, especially producers that only have one processor in their area. “My calculation is that it will be about a $24.00 dollar reduction in the value of a spot market hog, plus another $10.00 to send it to Iowa.”

Andrew Bailey with the National Pork Producers Council tells Brownfield the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System had been studied for more than 20 years in a pilot program with selected packing plants. “According to USDA data and OSHA data, those plants have been successfully operating safely in terms of both worker safety and food safety.

In April, Minnesota’s US District Court ruled that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to consider whether increasing line speeds would harm workers.  The court only struck down the unlimited line speed provision of the inspection rules.