As pork producers adapt to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, they encounter more obstacles. From hogs backed up on farms due to ongoing bottlenecks in the supply chain, to the uncertainty of where the hogs will go next, some pork producers are barely hanging on.
Many producers might not be able to survive the long road ahead back to “normal.” There is also concern that ‘normal’ will be changed indefinitely. Producers are facing severe financial and emotional hardships, and with the estimated collective market loss hovering around $5 billion for the remainder of the year, there is an urgent need to act quickly. Additionally, support is needed to compensate farmers for hogs they have to euthanize as a result of supply chain bottlenecks, and for funding to address depopulation and disposal costs.
Livestock agriculture provisions included in the House-passed HEROES Act would provide much-needed relief measures to U.S. pork producers. NPPC urges the Senate to quickly adopt these provisions in companion or standalone legislation:
- Compensation for euthanized livestock that can’t be processed into the food supply due to COVID-related packing plant capacity reductions;
- Expanded direct payments – without payment limitations – to livestock farmers who have suffered severe losses as COVID-related market disruptions have caused the value of their livestock to plummet;
- Increased funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have been tapped to perform COVID-19 testing during this human health emergency; and
- Mental health assistance for our farmers who face an unimaginable animal welfare crisis.
Pork producers need help to address the ongoing COVID pandemic. Through no fault of their own, they are being forced to make tough decisions to address supply chain bottlenecks that are preventing hogs from being processed into the food supply. The unfortunate reality is that hogs are having to be euthanized and it’s exacting a tremendous emotional toll on farmers. Euthanizing these animals and the food they represent goes against every farmer instinct.
U.S. pork producers aren’t going to be made whole by these provisions, but it will provide significant help at a pivotal time. These efforts will provide a much-needed lifeline to thousands of farmers who will otherwise go out of business, leading to consolidation and contraction of the U.S. pork industry.
All pork producers are hurting and need help if we’re to overcome this unprecedented crisis. NPPC recently held a media briefing to discuss the urgent need for government assistance. The most powerful comments though came from three of our pork producers, Mike Paustian (Iowa), Chad Leman (Illinois) and Kevin Hugoson (Minnesota), who outlined the critical importance of helping hog farmers. Producers take tremendous pride in providing a high-quality, nutritious protein to their communities and country. We just need Congress to help us prevail.
To hear directly from Paustian, Leman and Hugoson on how COVID-19 is affecting their operations, click on the links below:
*Photo: Illinois Pork Producer Chad Leman