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More federal help for pork producers?

Iowa Rep. Steve King sponsors legislation to compensate pork producers who euthanized hogs due to impacts of COVID-19.

Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Republican, has introduced legislation to provide federal relief to hog producers who euthanized hogs due to lack of slaughter capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, H.R. 7051, was introduced May 28 and referred to the House Agriculture Committee.

“When I visited the JBS processing plant in Worthington, Minn., at the invitation of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, preliminary estimates were that pork producers faced euthanizing 1.25 million healthy, market-ready hogs,” King said in a media statement. “Since then, that number has skyrocketed, and new estimates suggest processing shutdowns and slowdowns may force producers to euthanize 7 million hogs or more. Our producers are facing crushing COVID-19 related losses through no fault of their own, and my bill will allow most American owned operations to receive the vital funds they need to cover a share of these unprecedented losses and to continue operations.”

The bill directs the Agriculture Secretary to use Commodity Credit Corporation funds to provide emergency relief. The bill creates a structured payment system for covered producers. Under the terms of the legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture shall reimburse:

  1. for the first 50,000 hogs of such covered producer, 70% of the cost of such losses;
  2. for up to 50,000 hogs in addition to paragraph one, 55% of the cost of such losses; and
  3. for up to 100,000 hogs in addition to paragraph one and two, 45% of the cost of such losses.
  4. for any amount of hogs in addition to paragraphs one, two and three, 35% of the cost of such losses.

King's bill directs the secretary to use the average weekly price for a market-ready hog for reimbursement. A veterinarian must certify the number of hogs for which a producer claims a loss.

The bill specifically states the secretary may not make payments for the losses of packer-owned hogs, the losses of hogs owned by people who aren't U.S. citizens or hog losses for which the covered producer doesn't provide sufficient documentation of ownership.

The bill applies from April 1, 2020, to the date the national processing capacity of hog processing plants is equal to or greater than capacity on Feb. 1, 2020, as determined by the secretary of agriculture.

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