WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced that a Clemens Food Group pork plant in Coldwater, Mich., was allowed to run faster line speeds as part of a one-year trial program.

This is the fourth plant to receive the exemption in 2022. The others were the Clemens Food Group plant in Hatfield, Penn., Hormel Foods’ Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minn., and Wholestone Farms Cooperative in Fremont, Neb.

FSIS established that the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) should prepare to set a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour on June 30, 2021. This came after a federal court ruling that vacated a provision of the NSIS that enabled pork processors to establish maximum line speeds.

Since the ruling, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and others have asked the USDA to reconsider the decision made by the federal judge even though a one-year program has been established. 

Dermot Hayes, PhD, a professor of economics and finance at Iowa State University, said the six plants that are part of the program will have an aggregate impact of 3.6% expansion on US pork harvest capacity. After one year, that would translate into an increase in live hog prices of 6%.