USDA Announces Coordination Center To Help Depopulate Hogs; 25% of Processing Down from Virus at Mega-Packers; 6000+ Workers Out
April 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a press release on new measures to aid hog farmers, to assist in destroying stock, and other actions. The statement said, “USDA is leading the federal response by working in coordination with the Vice President’s Task Force, the CDC, OSHA, Department of Labor, industry, state and local governments, and others across the federal family to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on producers.”
At least 25% of U.S. total pork processing is shut from COVID-19 in the workforce. Packers report that at least 6,000 workers are off the job, either with the virus, or avoiding contact. Iowa and surrounding states are ground zero for the crisis, with several mega-packers shut down, leaving thousands of pigs unmarketable.
Financially, farmers are devastated. But Federal response so far has been restricted to a promised payment from CFAP—Corona Food Assistance Program, under the CARES Act authorization of money for farmers and livestock producers, at a level of $150,000 up to a cap of $250,000 per individual farmer, which for big hog growers is a drop in the bucket. The new USDA announcement does not promise more funds so far.
The April 25 release stated,
“The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is establishing a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures due to COVID-19. Going forward, APHIS Coordination Center, State Veterinarians, and other state officials will be assisting to help identify potential alternative markets if a producer is unable to move animals, and if necessary, advise and assist on depopulation and disposal methods.”