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USDA boosts funding for pandemic hog payments

Hog farmers who sold slaughter pigs at unduly low prices during the early months of the pandemic will receive an estimated $62.8 million in the coming weeks, nearly $13 million more than initially expected, said the Agriculture Department on Tuesday.

The USDA increased funding for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP) to eliminate the possibility of pro-rated payments.

“We are pleased to be able to provide more equitable opportunities for hog producers who were hard-hit by the pandemic,” said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of the Farm Service Agency.

The USDA announced the SMHPP last December and said it would pay producers $54 per head on up to 10,000 hogs sold on the spot market from April 16-Sept. 1, 2021, when outbreaks of Covid-19 among slaughterhouse workers reduced hog processing capacity.

“Producers forced into spot market hog sales are still challenged by the market disruptions of Covid-19, and these funds will contribute to the ongoing recovery of the U.S. pork industry,” said Terry Wolters, president of the National Pork Producers Council.

The USDA created a separate program that offered $270 million in 2021 to contract growers of hogs and poultry.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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