Jen Sorensen

More than a dozen U.S. senators, including Iowans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, are calling for indemnity support for pork producers who are depopulating their herds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jen Sorenson of Ankeny, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, says it was a big plus when President Trump declared pork processing plants as critical infrastructure, ordering them to stay open. “But we are still so far behind with plant capacity,” Sorenson says. “U.S. hog farmers need help and relief when it comes to compensation for euthanized animals and also the cost incurred with euthanizing, composting and rendering those animals as well.”

Hog producers in Iowa and elsewhere are asking for financial help in covering their losses.  “A hundred dollars, roughly, for compensation for euthanized animals,” Sorenson says, “and then an additional $50 to cover those rendering, disposal and composting costs, depending on how the producer wishes to walk through that process.”

Producers were looking to 2020 as a year of potential profit after a few years of consecutive financial challenges, but then coronavirus arrived.  Sorenson says, “We had two rough years in terms of the trade disruptions in 2018 and 2019 with not having access into Japan, the uncertainty of USMCA, and not having a market into China as well.”

Due to COVID-19 outbreaks that closed some meatpacking plants, processing capacity is down by 20- to 40-percent or more and estimates say the pork industry has lost more than five-billion dollars.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)