The stories we have heard for the past few months have been heart-wrenching. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a backlog of hogs to be processed across the country. This backlog meant many farmers had to donate processed hogs to various food pantry programs or make the choice of euthanizing perfectly healthy animals. The losses to hog farmers across the country are almost unfathomable. The effects have yet to have a full impact in some cases, and we may not be done.
On Monday, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) talked about the need for Congress to act on help for livestock farmers, especially hog producers, who had to make some difficult decisions. Dr. Steve Meyer is an economist with Kearns and Associates. He analyzed the impact on hog farmers by comparing hog prices on March 1st and July 10th. He said the loss in revenue to hog farmers is an estimated $4.7 billion dollars. When you add in the costs of euthanasia, disposal, or donation, the losses come in around $5 billion dollars.
Meyer called this a “slow-moving disaster.” He said that we may not see the pork values recover.
Dr. Meyer says that producers dd all they could to slow the growth of hogs and help relieve the backlog. We have seen a lot of bounce back in killing capacity at processing plants. However, the CDC pandemic guidelines mean that we still aren’t at full capacity, and likely may not be for a while. This means the backlog will keep growing, and more hogs may have to be destroyed.
Meyer says in all his years of involvement in the pork industry, he has never seen the producers take this big of a hit. He says that while he has not heard a lot about bankruptcies, but he knows they are coming.
NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth said that the RELIEF for Producers Act of 2020, which has the support of both Senators Grassley and Ernst, and the federal assistance being proposed by House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN 7th) need to be a part of future COVID-19 relief to help minimize the fallout for the U.S. hog producers. Roth also said that efforts
For more information on the U.S. pork industry’s response to COVID-related challenges, you can visit http://nppc.org/issues/issue/your-food-is-our-priority/.