In this file:
· DOJ Approves Farmers' Collaboration To Euthanize Hogs
· Department of Justice Supports National Pork Producers Council's Ability to Combat Meat Shortage
· Media Release: DOJ Provides Guidance for U.S. Pork Industry Response to COVID Crisis
· WSJ: Coronavirus to Slow U.S. Meat Production for Months, CEO Says
DOJ Approves Farmers' Collaboration To Euthanize Hogs
By Matthew Perlman, Law360
May 15, 2020
Law360 (May 15, 2020, 8:46 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday it does not see any competitive problems with efforts from the nation's largest association of hog farmers to help coordinate the killing of unmarketable livestock accumulating in the wake of COVID-19 processing plant closures.
The DOJ's Antitrust Division issued a business review letter in response to a request from the National Pork Producers Council over its efforts to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and local agencies to address an oversupply of hogs during the pandemic. The group also wants to share with its members best practices for depopulating hogs that have grown too large to be processed.
The DOJ letter said it will not challenge the proposed efforts, saying they do not appear to raise any competitive concerns, but the agency reserved its right to challenge the conduct later on if its found to be anti-competitive.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, head of the antitrust unit, said in a statement the letter addresses some of the challenges farmers face when processing capacity is constrained, and that the DOJ remains "committed to vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws to ensure that farmers and consumers see the benefits of competition."
The DOJ noted in its letter that President Donald Trump issued an executive order April 28 that designated meatpacking plants as critical infrastructure to help address capacity problems from closures caused by outbreaks of the virus and pressure from local leaders and unions.
In its May 8 request, the NPPC told the DOJ that around 44% of pork processing capacity was offline at the end of last month. These constraints, along with lost demand for pork from restaurants and the food service industry, has caused the price of hogs to crash and is creating "overwhelming oversupply" of the livestock, according to the request.
The request also said the U.S. pork industry uses a "just-in-time" production system where only hogs of a certain size fit on the production line equipment, and once they exceed this size, farmers have little choice but to euthanize and dispose of the animals.
"It is a tragic choice, but one that thousands of hog farmers are being forced to make because of COVID-19 closures of pork packing facilities," the request said.
All told the association said experts foresee a need to euthanize as many as 700,000 hogs per week and the group believes a coordinated industry and governmental response is needed to make sure as few hogs as possible are euthanized and that it's done ethically. The NPPC's plan includes working with the USDA and state and local governments to "implement an orderly euthanization and disposal process."
The group will communicate with farmers who may need assistance with unmarketable hogs, but any coordination among farmers will be supervised by the USDA and any decisions about how many hogs to euthanize will be made by the farmers individually, according to the request.
The DOJ's review letter said the conduct described by NPPC appears like it will largely occur...
Department of Justice Supports National Pork Producers Council's Ability to Combat Meat Shortage
Oklahoma Farm Report
Sat, 16 May 2020
The Department of Justice (Department) issued a letter to today to the National Pork Producers Council, the nation’s leading association of hog farmers, to address its proposed responses to challenges posed by COVID-19. The department will not challenge the proposed collaborative efforts of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address certain hardships facing hog farmers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter explains that the processing plant closures addressed in President Donald J. Trump’s April 28, 2020, Executive Order have had impacts up and down the supply chain. One of those impacts, according to NPPC, is the tragic need to euthanize unmarketable hogs that could not be brought to market due to processing capacity challenges. The letter determines that the NPPC and its members may work at the direction of the USDA and state agriculture agencies to achieve humane and efficient euthanization of hogs that have grown too large to be processed and are thus unmarketable. The NPPC may also share general information with its members about best practices for depopulating unmarketable hogs.
“Today’s letter addresses some of the challenges created for farmers when packing capacity shuts down,” stated Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “Meanwhile, we remain committed to vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws to ensure that farmers and consumers see the benefits of competition.”
The NPPC submitted its business review request pursuant to the expedited, temporary review procedure detailed in the Joint Antitrust Statement Regarding COVID-19 (joint statement) issued on March 24 by both the department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the joint statement, the department announced its aim to resolve COVID-19-related business review requests within seven calendar days of receiving all necessary information.
Copies of the business review request and the department’s response are available on the Antitrust Division’s website at...
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.
For more information about the state of the U.S. pork industry, including much-needed federal assistance, please visit http://nppc.org/issues/issue/your-food-is-our-priority/.
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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 www.nppc.org.
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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