In this file:
· Canada: Pork supply chain not experiencing disruptions, says hog marketing agency
· US pork sector calls for government action to avoid impending labour shortage
Pork supply chain not experiencing disruptions, says hog marketing agency
Entire sector has strong biosecurity protocols, says general manager of the Western Hog Exchange
By Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer Express (Canada)
March 18, 2020
Prices are soft but the hog supply chain is working well, says the general manager of the Western Hog Exchange.
The typical mid-March price rally hasn’t occurred but COVID-19 has roiled all markets, said Brent Bushell.
“It’s no different than the stock markets, and everything else. It’s the uncertainty,” said Bushell.
“I think people are going to be eating a whole bunch of pork. There’s just a lot of uncertainty in the market out there.”
That uncertainty has reduced forward contracting but pork is still moving through the value chain as it should be.
The sector already has well-established and very strong biosecurity protocols in place, Bushell noted.
“Unless it’s a very large production facility, the average producer will be operating in a barn with one to three people. They’re not in close proximity, and there are all the biosecurity things they do anyway.”
It’s more challenging for assembly barns and processors, but they’ve done a very good job so far, said Bushell.
There is still a large hole in the global herd, since China lost half of its hogs to African swine fever last year.
“There isn’t enough pork in the rest of the world to fill that hole, but China has looked at other alternatives,” he said.
The U.S. ramped up hog production to fill that gap and actually has an oversupply of hogs...
US pork sector calls for government action to avoid impending labour shortage
The National Pork Producers Council is urging government to take action to help to prevent an escalating labour shortage resulting from initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from becoming a crisis.
The Pig Site
19 March 2020
The US pork sector, which operates year-round, uses the H-2A visa programme for specialised work but is constrained by its seasonal limitation. Hog farmers also rely on the TN visa programme which taps labour from Mexico, so the US State Department's suspension of visa processing in Mexico threatens to worsen the labour shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Craig Andersen, a pig farmer from Centerville, South Dakota and a member of the NPPC Board of Directors, says at a time when the processing plants are already working with less than full shifts, they can't afford any additional hiccups.
"For example, a bunch of the schools have closed in some of the states," says Andersen, in an interview with Farmscape. "We're on our first week of school closing and now the Governor had requested that we have another week of school closing.
"For child care we're starting to lose some workers to stay home and take care of the kids and things like that.
"If we start losing some there, if some start getting sick and they need to stay home for the two weeks, we need to have somebody that we can backfill into the labour supply, especially on the packing plant end.
"The farm situation isn't maybe quite as bad. Trucking is also another place where we don't need to lose any workers and lose any truck drivers...
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