USDA establishes ‘coordination center’ to deal with meat animals |

USDA establishes ‘coordination center’ to deal with meat animals

The Hagstrom Report

Reacting to the coronavirus-related closure of meat plants in key pork producing areas, the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has established a National Incident Coordination Center to help producers find alternative markets for their animals or dispose of them.

APHIS said the center will “provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures due to COVID-19.”

“Going forward, APHIS’ Coordination Center, state veterinarians, and other state officials will be assisting to help identify potential alternative markets if a producer is unable to move animals, and if necessary, advise and assist on depopulation and disposal methods,” USDA said.

“Additionally, APHIS will mobilize and deploy assets of the National Veterinary Stockpile as needed and secure the services of contractors that can supply additional equipment, personnel, and services, much as it did during the large-scale Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza emergency in 2015.”

APHIS also said USDA’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service will be providing state-level technical assistance to producers and will provide cost share assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in line with program guidelines for disposal.

The National Pork Board recently sent the announcement to the industry.

DTN/The Progressive Farmer reported over the weekend that Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in a statement Saturday (April 25) that “Iowa’s pork industry is in dire straits.”

“With a system designed for just-in-time delivery, this important sector of our state’s economy has been turned on its head due to meat processing plant closures across Iowa, and the Midwest,” Ernst said.

“Our producers are now facing difficult and devastating decisions that can lead to them literally throwing out their livelihoods. After speaking with Secretary Perdue this week, I’m thankful to see him put plans in place to help our producers during this trying time. This is a good step that will provide guidance, support, and resources to Iowa pork producers.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wrote Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials on Thursday that pork producers “have no access to processing and have no choice but to depopulate their herds” and urged “a robust federal response to address this dire situation.” ❖