Peterson arranges hog depopulations, plans CCC increase with strings
In a wide-ranging call with reporters last week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he has arranged for the JBS plant in Worthington, Minn., to kill hundreds of thousands of Minnesota hogs that would come on line for slaughter, starting April 29.
Pork processing plants have been closed because of worker infections with the COVID-19 virus.
He also said pork producers must have indemnity payments for the hogs or they will go bankrupt, but that Agriculture Department officials have said they have authority to make indemnity payments only when animals are killed because they are sick, and also that USDA has no money to make the payments.
Peterson also said he would favor increasing the borrowing authority for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to $68 billion, the amount of authority it would need to be equal with inflation to the legal authority that was established in the 1980s, but that he will support that increase only if the legislation includes a provision requiring the agriculture secretary to get approval from the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate agriculture committees.
He also said he wants a top-to-bottom review of the USDA’s system of purchasing commodities and specialty crops for distribution, which he said takes too long.
Peterson said his legislative proposals would be in the next coronavirus economic aid package and that if his provisions including congressional oversight of CCC spending are not included, he will not support the bill.
He said he did not know if U.S. firms are still exporting pork, but that it would be a good idea to keep the pork supply in the country, since shortages are anticipated. ❖
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