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Tips for pork producers on pig disposal and feeding issues

Packing plants are shutting down from COVID-19, so there is no place for market hogs to go.

While processing plants are figuring out their path forward to running lines and protecting worker health, pig farmers are dealing with near-term issues.

Nutrition Strategies during Pork Market Disruptions

The Iowa Pork Industry Center has resources to use in making adjustments to nutrition strategies to manage pigs while working through the current pork market disruptions caused by processing plants that have reduced intake or have shutdowns. They include a webinar with swine nutritionists John Patience and Laura Greiner of Iowa State University. They’ve also prepared a 4-page review of that information and economic considerations for decision-making. 

NRCS and Emergency Assistance for Animal Disposal

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has some financial and technical assistance for livestock producers dealing with animal mortality disposal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers must file three forms to be eligible for financial assistance, for which there is limited funding. The forms are

  1. Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) form CCC-1200 
  2. Early Start Waiver
  3. 2020 Iowa Swine Mortality Certification

If you need help finding the forms, talk with your local NRCS field office.

New EIDL and PPP Funds Available, Some Farms Still Face Restrictions

Congress has passed additional funding for the Small Business Administration loans designed for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Insurance Disaster Loans (EIDL) are programs now available to many farmers. Apply for both programs at the SBA website. Also consult with your lender and accountants about the loans.

Webinar will Review Carcass Disposal Options 

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is sponsoring a webinar on Wednesday, April 29, at 8 a.m. to review environmentally sound disposal options, with many of the options focused on some portion of composting. You need to preregister to receive details on the webinar link. Topics include carbon feedstock types and amounts, windrow construction and management, and above-ground burial.

Don’​t Overlook Stress Assistance

Producers are under tremendous financial and emotional stress right now. ISU Extension offers two resources that producers may find valuable. Iowans can call the Iowa Concern Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-447-1985 to speak with individuals trained to address legal, financial, and emotional concerns. The consultations are free and confidential. 

ISU Extension also has a Farm Financial Planning Program that offers one-on-one financial counseling, a computerized analysis of farm businesses, and referrals to other Extension or third-party services that may be useful. These services are free to producers.

USDA Assistance Will Fall Short

Pork producer assistance from USDA in its COVID-19 relief package last Friday “will fall short of what is truly needed,” said Howard “A.V.” Roth, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “While the direct payments to hog farmers will offset some losses for some farmers, they are not sufficient to sustain the varied market participants, including those who own hogs as well as thousands of contract growers who care for pigs. All of these participants have made sizable investments in U.S. pork production.” 

USDA is also providing $3 billion in planned agricultural product purchases. “We are thankful for USDA commodity purchases, a step that will hopefully help move a backed-up supply of pork to those who need it, creating much-needed plant capacity to harvest market-ready hogs,” Roth said.

Here are related websites for more information:

IPPA's COVID-19 Information

National Pork Board efforts 

Iowa Department of Agriculture's COVID-19 site  

USDA's COVID-19 webpage 

State of Iowa Comprehensive COVID-19 Information  

CDC's website

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