Turning of the Tide?

U.S. pork producers take great pride in the special responsibility they hold in keeping America’s kitchens supplied with an affordable and healthy source of nutritious protein. While COVID-19 challenges have taken a significant toll on U.S. hog farmers, they continue to persevere and there are glimmers of hope.

In late April, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which prioritizes pork packing plant operation continuity. NPPC is thankful for the support extended by our federal, state and local government leaders. As we all work together to protect workers and the nation’s food supply, we need uniform and consistent solutions and all available resources to address this unprecedented crisis.

Invoking DPA is a good first step, but hog farmers need help and they need it now. As a result of COVID-19, U.S. pork producers are conservatively facing an estimated $5 billion loss for the remainder of the year. All pork producers are hurting, and immediate action is imperative. Many generational family farms will go bankrupt without immediate financial aid.

NPPC continues to work with Congress and the administration on efforts to help hog producers weather this crisis. In positive news this week, the House Appropriations Committee included livestock agriculture provisions in its COVID aid package. These provisions included funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide:

  • Compensation for euthanized livestock that can’t be processed into the food supply due to COVID-related packing plant capacity reductions;
  • Expanded direct payments to livestock farmers who have suffered severe losses as COVID-related market disruptions have caused the value of their livestock to plummet. In USDA implementation of this program, NPPC continues to seek the removal of payment caps to ensure much-needed aid is extended to those farmers who need it most; and
  • Increased funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have been tapped to perform COVID-19 testing during this human health emergency.

These provisions represent a critical lifeline for hog farmers struggling to weather this storm. NPPC is hopeful Congress will quickly pass final legislation that includes these provisions.

Additionally, last week the Small Business Administration reopened its Emergency Injury Disaster Loan application for a limited time to U.S. agricultural businesses which were previously excluded from the program. An additional $60 billion in funding is available for eligible businesses, farmers, ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re hopeful these efforts indicate a turning of the tide, with hog farmers finally seeing some of the aid they desperately need. NPPC will continue to work across federal, state and local governments, along with our state affiliates, to address the numerous COVID-19 related challenges to our producers. Learn more by visiting: nppc.org/issues/issue/your-food-is-our-priority.