In this file:


·         Coronavirus may force hog farmers to kill 10M pigs by September

… according to the National Pork Producers Council…


·         Even as grocery stores limit meat sales, US farmers may have to euthanize 10 million pigs

·         Coronavirus to Slow U.S. Meat Production for Months, CEO Says

·         NPPC: DOJ Provides Guidance for U.S. Pork Industry Response to COVID Crisis



Coronavirus may force hog farmers to kill 10M pigs by September

At least 14,000 reported positive COVID-19 cases have been connected to meatpacking facilities


By Audrey Conklin, FOXBusiness

May 17, 2020


U.S. pork farmers may be forced to euthanize as many as 10 million hogs by September as a result of production-plant shutdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Pork Producers Council.


At least 14,000 reported positive COVID-19 cases have been connected to meatpacking facilities in at least 181 plants in 31 states as of May 13, and at least 54 meatpacking facility workers have died of the virus at 30 plants in 18 states, according to an investigation by the Midwest Center for Investigative reporting.


Dozens of meat production plants closed before President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in late April allowing large facilities to remain open during COVID-19 in an effort to address supply chain and liability issues, but farms and plants still face overcrowding threats as some plants remain closed or have significantly slower production.


Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Vice President Chris Hoffman, who won America's Best Pig Farmer of the Year award in 2019, told FOX Business that production in these meat processing plants is back up to about 70 percent, but until production gets back up to 100 percent, the industry will see backlog issues.


"We process over half-a-million hogs per day, and right now, from what I heard on Tuesday, all plants are running but at different levels. We're at 70 percent. If you take half-a-million hogs every day, and you're only running at 70 percent production, 100 million hogs get pushed to the next day, and then that gets pushed back to 200 million the next day," Hoffman said.


He added that these backlog issues vary depending on which area of the country farmers are operating in and which plant they are shipping to.


"I've heard folks say the recovery of some of these plants is faster than expected. That is a great sign that the number [of euthanized hogs] could be less," Hoffman said, but added that the wellbeing of the people who work in these processing plants is what's most important.


About 170,000 hogs that have reached the country's harvest standards can't be marketed due to plant closures and slow production, the NPPC said in a press release. The organization added that housing for these market-ready hogs is "not an option" because "younger hogs coming up through the supply chain need someplace to go for care and feeding."


Producers are then faced with the choice to watch their animals suffer due to a lack of proper care or euthanize them, which the NPPC notes is the "only humane option" for farmers who produce food.


It can take almost a year to care for a pig from the time it is born until the time it is ready for harvest when it has reached about 270 pounds, according to national guidelines, the release says. Hogs that weigh more than 270 pounds "cannot be processed through the nation's primary harvest facilities due to constraints in the equipment and concerns with worker safety," the NPPC release says.


Hoffman said it takes 10 months to raise a pig to be ready for harvesting.


"Every week, we have a certain amount of hogs in our facility that need to be processed. It's not like you can turn the spigot off. It takes 10 months for the [growth] process to be completed. The lack of processing creates an overcrowded situation," he explained.


The amount of time and work farmers put into raising pigs is what makes the euthanization issue more delicate than many people may realize. Even though the pigs are raised to eventually be butchered and sold to customers as food, Hoffman says a farmer's animals become like family because of the dedication required to take proper care of them before harvest.


"These are generational farms," Hoffman said. "Here we are with farmers who are posed with a situation they never thought they'd have to deal with, and that's euthanizing animals. My concern as I look at the industry is: It's a real toll on a farmer, day in and day out. These animals are like our family, they are designed for meat, and it breaks your heart to make these kinds of decisions."


Different farms approach these schedules in different ways, and some pork producers are operating normally despite the pandemic, but the industry as a whole is facing dark times. Pork harvesting was down nearly 40 percent from the prior year as of May 6...


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Even as grocery stores limit meat sales, US farmers may have to euthanize 10 million pigs

The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on the US's food supply chain, especially the pork industry.


By Mallika Kallingal, CNN

via WRCB TV - May 15th 2020


The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on the US's food supply chain, especially the pork industry.


Some grocery stores are limiting meat purchases yet pig farmers around the country are having to make the unthinkable decision of having to euthanize their livestock. The National Pork Producers Association estimates up to 10 million hogs could be euthanized between April and September. And this could lead to some farmers facing financial disaster.


The association says since meatpacking plants have been closed, farmers are unable to sell thousands of hogs. At current plant capacity levels, approximately 170,000 market-ready hogs per day can't be sold.


"As we headed into 2020, American hog farmers on average were expected to make $10 per hog. Collectively, with the onset of COVID-19, they are now facing losses of more than $5 billion for the year as there are too many hogs and not enough plant capacity to process them into the food supply," said Jim Monroe, assistant vice president for communications at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).


It takes about 10 to 11 months for hogs to be market ready, according to the NPPC. And with younger hogs coming up the supply chain, there is often no place to house the mature hogs.


"The only humane option is to euthanize them, a tragedy for farmers who work to produce food for people. Destroying these animals and the food they represent goes against every farmer instinct," the association said in a statement.


Pork production down 40%


The NPPC, which represents 42 affiliated state associations, says it is seeking federal government assistance to help the nation's roughly 60,000 pork producers through this difficult time.


"We can't speculate on when plants will be restored to full capacity. That's why federal assistance is so critical. This is a never-before-seen crisis in the US pork industry," Monroe said.


Due to Covid-related plant shutdowns and slowdowns, pork harvest capacity is down nearly 40 percent as of May 6, according to the NPPC.


Multiple outbreaks of coronavirus among meat and poultry processing facility workers have occurred in the US, leading to temporary closure of the facilities. But pigs are continuing to reach market weight on farms in numbers that are normal in a pre-coronavirus world resulting in overcrowding, according to the NPPC.


"The pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the pork industry in Minnesota and our family farmers emotionally and financially and it's impacting our rural communities," said David Preisler, CEO for the Minnesota Pork Producers Association (MPPA).


"We're happy to see the plants starting to come back online but we have a backlog of pigs that would take months to work through," Preisler added.


Minnesota euthanizing about 10,000 hogs everyday


An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 hogs are being euthanized every day in Minnesota, according to the state association. And this will continue to some extent until meatpacking plants get back closer to full capacity.


"Our farmers are doing everything they can to avoid depopulating animals who don't have a market including finding local markets, selling to other places, but the backlog of pigs is huge," Preisler says.


The Minnesota association is working to connect farmers with resources for depopulation and disposal, financial resources, and mental health resources. It's working closely with government officials to help them understand the issue and ask them to provide as much support and relief to farmers as they can.


The University of Minnesota Extension advises restricting access to feed and elevating barn temperatures to slow the growth rate of pigs.


"Depopulation is an absolute last resort for farmers and is absolutely heartbreaking. Right now, they are doing everything they can to avoid it," Preisler says...





Coronavirus to Slow U.S. Meat Production for Months, CEO Says

Head of the biggest U.S. beef producer says JBS is revamping operations and has hired 1,000 workers to do extra cleaning


By Jacob Bunge, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

May 15, 2020


The coronavirus will likely hamper U.S. meat production for months, as new safety measures and reduced staffing slow plant operations, said the head of the biggest U.S. beef producer.


JBS USA Holdings Inc., which slaughters 23% of the country’s cattle and produces nearly one-fifth of its pork, is revamping plant operations to space workers farther apart while about 10% of its workforce has been sent home because of their higher risk from Covid-19, Chief Executive Andre Nogueira said...


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DOJ Provides Guidance for U.S. Pork Industry Response to COVID Crisis


Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)

May 15, 2020


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division today provided guidance for collaboration among U.S. hog farmers to effectively address unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The favorable decision is in response to a "business review" letter submitted to the DOJ by the National Pork Producers Council seeking permission to allow hog farmers greater flexibility in working to maximize the number of hogs entering the food supply, minimize the tragic need to euthanize hogs, and, facilitate the safe and orderly euthanization of those hogs which are not able to enter the food supply.


COVID-related pork packing plant closures and slowdowns have caused a severe back-up of pigs on farms. Overcrowding impacts pigs' ability to rest comfortably and may result in aggression and injuries. Maintaining air quality and temperatures that keep animals comfortable is also challenged. To prevent animal suffering, farmers are being forced to euthanize animals.


"Our goal is to efficiently process as many hogs as possible into the food supply," said Howard "A.V." Roth, NPPC president and a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Appropriate collaboration across the industry and with state and federal government officials will minimize the number of pigs that must be euthanized and ensure that it is handled humanely, and that disposal is environmentally sound."


Following is an example of the type of productive industry collaboration NPPC cited in its letter to the DOJ:


To aid farmers in their unprecedented need to depopulate large numbers of hogs, NPPC is assisting its state organizations, state governments, and farmers in identifying sources of euthanasia equipment and is participating in discussions regarding the organization of centralized euthanasia and disposal stations.  This process includes disseminating projections as to the number of hogs those facilities may handle each day.  NPPC and its members may seek to collaborate to discuss the most orderly and efficient euthanization process.


NPPC's business review letter can be read here. The DOJ's response is available here.


For more information about the state of the U.S. pork industry, including much-needed federal assistance, please visit


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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America's 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit