More Help For Pork Producers In Next COVID-Relief Package?
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) sent a letter to the congressional leadership requesting that pork producers be included in the next COVID economic recovery package. You can make a very good argument that of all the sectors of agriculture the pork industry took the biggest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic and the shut-down shelter in place order early last spring.
Last spring in late April I went out to the farm to plant corn. We had received .3 inches of rain the night before and I thought it would be dry enough to plant corn. My neighbor tried planting and decided it was still too wet and "sticky" to plant corn. I saw him standing by his 24 row planted at the end of the field so I stopped to see what he was thinking about planting corn.
My neighbor is involved in a large pork operation with his family so I asked him how they were doing getting their finished pigs to processing plants. He said the first week when the pork processing plants began scaling back and shutting down they did pretty well. Then their plant shut down. In one weeks time they were 18 semi-loads of health finished pigs behind their intended shipping schedule.
There were pigs in nurseries ready to move into the finishing barns. But there was no place to take the pigs from the finishing barns because the processing plant shut down. They had to decide to euthanize healthy pigs ready for market or euthanize young pigs in the nursery! What a horrible decision they were forced to make!
I did not ask my neighbor what the value of 18 semi-loads of finished hogs would be. They may have been hedged or contracted. However, I did ask another pork producer what the value would be if they were sold that day in the open cash market. He said 18 semi-loads would be around $500,000.
For this one pork producer $500,000 of income that should have gone to pay the feed bill, vet, labor, building payments and other bills disappeared in an instant! I know people lost their jobs and family business were destroyed so there was lots of pain for almost everyone. But still, those are mind-boggling numbers that hit pork producers!