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With pork producers still being severely impacted by COVID-19, leaders of the National Pork Producers Council last week urged Congress to pass relief measures.

The Heroes Act passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives included several items that should be incorporated into companion legislation to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate, according to NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth of Wisconsin.

Those items are:

  • Compensation for euthanized livestock that can’t be processed.
  • Expanded direct payments without limitations to farmers who have suffered severe losses due to COVID-related market disruptions.
  • Increased funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories which have been drafted to perform COVID-19 testing.
  • Mental health assistance for farmers.

“The U.S. Senate must act quickly,” Roth said during a May 28 teleconference. “We are urging the Senate to adapt these priorities.”

Farmers are trying to adapt to the new situation, according to Chad Lemon, a pork producer from Eureka, Illinois. They are radically changing pig diets and changing the ventilation in barns due to the variance in pigs being housed together.

Mike Paustian, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, said he is concerned that as the public sees things starting to return to normal they might assume all is fine on the farm. But he said packing plants are still not operating at 100% capacity and it will take months to work through the backlog of animals.

Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.