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Hog Farmers Urgently Need Congressional Action to Weather Crisis

U.S. hog farmers continue to face an unprecedented emergency as a result of COVID-related challenges, with an estimated two million hogs still backed-up on farms according to an analysis by Dr. Steve Meyer, an economist with Kerns & Associates. At a press briefing today, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) described the damage exacted on hog farmers and urged Congress to act swiftly to preserve their livelihoods.  
 
Dr. Meyer said U.S. hog farmers face massive losses due to multiple COVID-19 crisis-related factors, which have turned profit potential for 2020 from robust to disastrous.  According to his analysis, based on lean hog futures prices on March 1 and July 10 and actual hog prices in the interim, potential 2020 revenue from hog sales has been reduced by roughly $4.7 billion. Other losses associated with euthanasia, disposal and donation of pigs with no market outlet and insufficient space to hold them mean U.S. pork producers have lost nearly $5 billion in actual and potential profits for 2020. He said it appears those losses will continue into 2021.
 
“This is, by far, the worst financial disaster ever for American hog farmers, who were already in a weakened financial position due to two years of trade retaliation” said Dr. Meyer. “As we entered 2020, hog farmers were finally looking at a profitable year, only to have COVID-19 turn the industry on its head. Hog farmers are now looking at $5 billion in losses – or $37 per hog – relative to what they expected for 2020 before the COVID-19 crisis began. Roughly two million hogs are still backed up on farms and this is likely to cause more pigs to be euthanized to prevent suffering due to overcrowding. If COVID prompts additional plant disruptions – a real possibility – the number of hogs backed-up on farms will swell precipitously.”   
 
“Many U.S. hog farmers will not survive this crisis,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “As the Senate begins work on the next COVID relief package, we urge lawmakers to provide a critical lifeline to hog farmers across the nation to minimize what has already been significant damage to our producers.”
 
Earlier this month, Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the RELIEF for Producers Act of 2020, providing compensation for farmers who are forced to euthanize or donate animals that can’t be processed into the food supply as a result of COVID-19, among other provisions. 
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