July 7, 2020
US creates new bill to aid COVID-affected hog farmers
US senators have created a new bill to aid hog and poultry producers who are forced to kill or donate animals that cannot be processed into the food supply due to COVID-related plant capacity reductions, Farm Journal reported.
The Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future (RELIEF) for Producers Act of 2020, was introduced on Thursday by Senators Jim Inhofe, Richard Burr, Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley and Thom Tillis.
The bill would also increase funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners and revise the Commodity Credit Corporation charter, so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding.
"While plant capacity has improved, millions of hogs remain backed up on farms due to the COVID-created bottleneck, one that could have a lasting impact on hog farmers," National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Howard "A.V." Roth, a producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin, said. "The RELIEF for Producers Act provides a much-needed lifeline to thousands of farmers who could otherwise go out of business, leading to consolidation and contraction of the US pork industry. We urge Congress to work together to quickly pass much-needed legislation addressing this crisis."
The impact of COVID-19 has caused hog values to plummet, creating a financial disaster for pork producers nationwide who face a collective US$5 billion loss for the remainder of the year. Additionally, US pork producers face staggering costs for the millions of hogs that may be euthanised as pigs back up on farms due to ongoing bottlenecks in the pork supply chain, NPPC said.
"Farmers and ranchers across the country are working to operate in these unprecedented times," Senator Inhofe said. "When I spoke with members of the Oklahoma Pork Council in May, we discussed the strain COVID-19 has put on their production cycles and their need for relief moving forward. That is why I am glad to introduce the Relief for Producers Act to provide a framework for producers and ease some of the burden brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will help livestock and poultry farmers more easily and efficiently navigate a path forward as we battle this crisis."