Senators Urge Congressional Leaders to Prioritize Help for Producers Forced to Depopulate Large Portions of Livestock Herds

WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/11/20]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is leading a bipartisan Senate push to help pork producers in Minnesota and across the country after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down meat processing plants and restaurants and dried up billions of dollars in demand for their products. 

In a letter Monday to House and Senate leaders led by Sen. Smith and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the 14 Senators said the pandemic has idled 40% of meat processing capacity and thrown producers into a crisis requiring them to quickly euthanize hundreds of thousands of animals. 

“The crisis is immediate. Pork producers send to market over two million pigs each week. If twenty percent of processing is idle, that means somewhere around 400,000 animals per week must be disposed of in some manner other than processing. Accordingly, government support is needed in the management of a sensible depopulation of the herd until plant operations stabilize, the senators wrote.

"Given these significant social and economic consequences, we must prioritize funding to indemnify producers who are depopulating herds due to processing plant closures. Assistance is needed for humane euthanization and disposal which will require the coordination of the human, animal, and environmental health communities," the senators continued. 

In addition to Sens. Smith and Grassley, the letter was signed by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

You can read the letter here

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