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COVID-19 could have catastrophic impacts on US pork supply chain say NPPC

This week, the NPPC submitted a letter to US Government officials detailing just how hard the US pork supply chain has been hit in recent years and how the Coronavirus presents a new and significant challenge.

11 March 2020, at 11:01am

In a letter to President Trump, administration officials, members of Congress and state governors, the NPPC have called for solutions to address the shortage of regular workers on hog farms and in packing plants. The US is already facing labour shortages and COVID-19 presents a new challenge which could have catastrophic effects on farmers and the economy if not handled effectively.

The NPPC calls for effective strategies to be put in place to ensure a stable workforce and ensure the food and farming industry can continue as normal throughout the current Coronavirus impact and into the future.

"Twenty years ago, the industry suffered from a plant-capacity shortage and the damage exacted on hog farmers was deep and lasting," writes President of the National Pork Producers Council Howard Roth.

"The price of market hogs collapsed to almost zero. Many hog farmers lost everything. The industry became more consolidated. Without a solution to the labour shortage on farm and in plants, this scenario may play out again.

"While industry economists and analysts have been expecting the capacity shortfall to begin in September, the COVID-19 situation could cause significant capacity shortfalls much sooner and put daily animal care needs at risk.

"School closures preventing parents from going to work are already a concern in farm and plant communities.

"The spectre of market-ready hogs with nowhere to go is a nightmare for every pork producer in the nation. It would result in severe economic fallout in rural communities and a major animal welfare challenge."

Roth concludes by imploring federal and state officials to work with the US pork industry to mitigate the impact on the US industry and the communities which depend on it.

"We ask for solutions for more and expedited worker visas and for the administration to develop support plans for pig farmers impacted by bottlenecks in the supply chain."