For the Week Ending May 15, 2020

Spread the love

The U.S. House is set to vote later today on the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which includes a handful of livestock agriculture provisions. Specifically, the bill includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide 1) Compensation for euthanized livestock that can’t be processed into the food supply due to COVID-related packing plant capacity reductions; 2) Expanded direct payments to livestock farmers who have suffered severe losses as COVID-related market disruptions have caused the value of their livestock to plummet. In USDA implementation of this program; and 3) Increased funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have been tapped to perform COVID-19 testing during this human health emergency. “These provisions represent a critical lifeline for hog farmers struggling to weather this storm,” said Howard “A.V.” Roth, NPPC president and a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. We urge Congress to come together quickly on final legislation that includes these provisions,” he added. To read a copy of NPPC’s press release, click here. For more information on U.S. pork industry’s response to COVID-related challenges, please visit here.  

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division 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 NPPC 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. “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,” he added. To read NPPC’s press release, click here

As Congress considers further aid to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it should include USDA compensation for hog farmers who have to euthanize their pigs to prevent animal suffering, 14 senators, led by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), wrote to Congressional leadership on Monday. In a press release accompanying the letter, NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth said, “U.S. hog farmers are in dire straits and face the tragic need to euthanize animals due to circumstances beyond their control. We thank Sens. Grassley, Ernst and Smith for leading efforts to compensate pork producers and help them weather this crisis. Without this and other much-needed assistance, we face consolidation and contraction of a critical farm sector.” NPPC issued a call-to-action last week, seeking support for the letter. A similar letter was also sent this week from North Carolina Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr and Reps. David Rouzer, Dan Bishop, Richard Hudson, and Greg Murphy to Congressional leadership. NPPC is seeking additional federal government support to compensate farmers for hogs they have to euthanize to prevent animal suffering and for funding to address depopulation and disposal costs.  

On Thursday, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published final new rules revising hours of service (HOS) requirements for truck drivers. HOS govern the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. The agency proposed new HOS rules in August 2019. Changes in the final rule included lengthening the short-haul drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours, extending the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles, allowing drivers to split the required 10 hours off duty into two periods and extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted during adverse driving conditions. In comments on the proposed rule, NPPC had sought additional flexibility for livestock haulers who encountered unexpected, adverse driving conditions and the ability to divide the mandatory, 10 hours of rest into separate segments, among other recommendations. NPPC supports the agency’s final rule, which will be implemented 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.