Your Food is Our Priority
America’s hog farmers are committed to the special responsibility we hold for keeping American kitchens and consumers everywhere supplied with a healthy source of nutritious protein. More than 60,000 U.S. pork producers remain hard at work today, raising pigs with the highest standards of animal care and delivering the world’s highest-quality, most affordable pork.
“We remain committed to supplying Americans with high-quality U.S. pork, but face a dire situation that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of farm families. We are taking on water fast. Immediate action is imperative, or a lot of hog farms may go under.”
– Howard “A.V.” Roth, NPPC President
The Industry’s Challenge
The essential U.S. pork supply chain is running as the nation responds to the COVID-19 human health challenge. But U.S. hog farmers face a dire situation. Pork producers and pork packing plants have faced a long-standing shortage of labor in rural America, which is now compounded by COVID-related plant disruptions and rising worker absenteeism.
While pork harvest capacity has improved significantly, previous COVID-related plant shutdowns and slowdowns created a lasting bottleneck with millions of pigs at every stage of the production cycle backed up on farms. Tragically, farmers may have to euthanize animals to prevent suffering associated with overcrowding. Aside from the emotional toll, the financial crisis facing producers is also devastating. With a considerable surplus of pigs created by COVID-related disruptions, hog values have plunged and producers will lose more than $5 billion collectively this year. This does not include the staggering costs from the lost value of euthanized or donated pigs and the expenses associated with depopulation and safe disposal.
Without rapid government intervention, thousands of pork producers, the vast majority of which are family-run farming operations, may go out of business, causing economic dislocation throughout rural America.
Coming Together to Find Solutions
NPPC, in consultation with hog farmers across the nation, has identified these solutions to support the nation’s pork production system:
- Funding for Euthanasia and Disposal: NPPC is seeking federal government support to compensate farmers for hogs they have to euthanize as a result of supply chain bottlenecks and for funding to address depopulation and disposal costs;
- Producer Payments: The COVID-19 relief package announced by the USDA on April 17, 2020, falls woefully short of addressing the losses incurred by hog farmers. NPPC is seeking increased financial aid and the removal of payment limitations that have left behind many producers who have made major investments in hogs;
- Mental Health Support: Hog farmers raise pigs with care for the food supply. Euthanasia to prevent animal suffering is always a last resort and hog farmers have found innovative techniques to address current challenges. For example, adjustments of diet to include less protein have successfully slowed the growth of pigs, extending the amount time pigs can comfortably remain on farms before moving to harvest facilities. Sadly, in some cases, euthanasia is the only option, a decision that runs counter to every farming instinct. NPPC seeks increased funding for farmer mental health programs to address the emotional toll being exacted on so many producers.
- Lending Programs: Hog farmers small and big are struggling to access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Sole proprietor farmers who had net losses in 2019 cannot calculate their PPP payment. Even for those who are able to calculate a payment, the regulations are vague as to how to calculate loan forgiveness. Many farmers are disincentivized from applying for PPP because they do not have clear guidance from the Small Business Administration to know if a loan will ultimately be forgiven. Larger operations are also in jeopardy because they do not have access to capital through the Main Street Lending Program or PPP because of their size. This effectively means many businesses deemed essential, such as U.S. hog farms, and who employ thousands of Americans around our country, could be forced to suspend operations or close entirely. NPPC is urging SBA to 1) design a new way of calculating PPP payments for sole proprietors who file an IRS Schedule F and who had negative net profits in 2019; 2) release rules and regulations that clarify how to effectively calculate loan forgiveness for sole proprietors; 3) create an exemption that allows all hog farms with NAICS Code 112210 to apply for PPP.
U.S. pork producers are working to stabilize a farm sector in crisis and ensure we continue to provide an uninterrupted supply of affordable, high-quality protein to America’s kitchens.
Your food is the National Pork Producers Council’s priority.