Nebraska Extension is calling on municipalities, lawn care companies, farmers and others to donate or sell wood chips, hay, lawn waste and other carbon sources to livestock producers hit hard by COVID-19.
Livestock producers — particularly swine producers — are being faced with having to euthanize animals as meat processing plants have reduced or temporarily halted processing of livestock because of COVID-19.
Composting is one of several ways that producers can dispose of animal carcasses, but most producers don't have access to the large amounts of carbon — such as mulch, hay, manure or lawn waste — needed to safely perform composting of large volumes of carcasses.
Extension specialists Benny Mote and Amy Schmidt worked with University of Nebraska-Lincoln web developers to launch disastercare.unl.edu, a site that allows municipalities, businesses or individuals with carbon materials to list their available products, and for producers to search for needed materials.
"This is an extremely difficult spot for producers to be in, both financially and emotionally," Mote says. "Helping connect producers with a carbon source gives them one less thing to worry about."
Those who wish to sell or donate carbon sources can visit disastercare.unl.edu, create an account and fill out a simple form in which they provide information on the type of carbon they can provide, how much they have, where they are located and whether they can assist with loading or delivery. Producers in need can create an account to view and connect with suppliers of carbon sources.
"It's a very simple tool, but critically important," says Ashley Mueller, Nebraska Extension disaster educator. "We all remember the outpouring of hay donations to help Nebraska farmers affected by the 2019 floods feed their livestock. Producers this year are facing a new set of challenges, and we hope that Nebraskans will once again step up and lend a helping hand."
Additional resources for swine producers affected by COVID-19 are available at animalscience.unl.edu/swine, including information about financial assistance. Additionally, Nebraska Extension has compiled resources for families, individuals, businesses and producers at disaster.unl.edu.