A new Senate bill to compensate hog and poultry producers who are forced to euthanize or donate animals that can't be processed into the food supply due to COVID-related packing plant capacity reductions has the support of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
The Responding to Epidemic Losses and Investing in the Economic Future (RELIEF) for Producers Act of 2020, was introduced on Thursday by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
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," NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a producer from Wauzeka, Wis., said in a release. “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 U.S. 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 $5 billion loss for the remainder of the year. Additionally, U.S. pork producers face staggering costs for the millions of hogs that may be euthanized as pigs back up on farms due to ongoing bottlenecks in the pork supply chain, NPPC said in a release.
"Farmers and ranchers across the country are working to operate in these unprecedented times," Sen. Inhofe said in a release. "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."
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