Like most hog producers throughout the country, Essex, Iowa farmer Dennis Liljedahl is trying to make the most out of a challenging situation.
Liljedahl serves as president-elect of the executive committee on the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s Board of Directors. He says the overriding impact currently facing hog farmers is COVID-19 outbreaks at meat packing plants in the U.S., which have forced many plants to either temporarily shut down or reduce capacity.
“There’s nothing more important than human health. Those workers are essential,” Liljedahl said. “This has created a backlog of pigs. The pigs keep growing and new pigs keep being born. That has created an oversupply problem. We have plenty of pigs, but not the harvesting capacity.”
Liljedahl runs his three-generation family farm based in Essex. The farm produces corn, soybeans, seed soybeans and hogs on both rented and family owned land. Liljedahl says his family’s operation has been able to avoid some of the current issues impacting livestock producers.
“With our transition, we didn’t have a lot of market-ready pigs,” he said. “However, the price impacts have been quite dramatic with the oversupply. The packers are trying to get through it. It’s causing an economic impact that I think is going to be felt for a long time.”
Liljedahl adds the Iowa Pork Producers Association has been working to keep information and resources available to the state’s producers in order to help them handle any challenges.
“One of those is trying to slow the gain of pigs so we don’t have so much weight coming to market,” Liljedahl said. “There is a Pass the Pork program that was started with food banks to pay for processing of pigs at lockers that the meat can go to food banks.”
To stay up to date with the association’s latest information and tools, visit iowapork.org.