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US government issues COVID-19 guidance for pork industry

The US Department of Justice Antitrust Division provides guidance for collaboration among US hog farmers meeting the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

18 May 2020, at 8:54am

The favourable decision is in response to a “business review” letter submitted to the DOJ by the National Pork Producers Council seeking permission to allow hog farmers greater flexibility in working to maximise the number of hogs entering the food supply, minimise the tragic need to euthanise hogs, and, facilitate the safe and orderly euthanisation of those hogs which are not able to enter the food supply.

COVID-related pork packing plant closures and slowdowns have caused a severe back-up of pigs on farms. Overcrowding impacts pigs’ ability to rest comfortably and may result in aggression and injuries. Maintaining air quality and temperatures that keep animals comfortable is also challenged. To prevent animal suffering, farmers are being forced to euthanise animals.

“Our goal is to efficiently process as many hogs as possible into the food supply,” said Howard “AV” Roth, NPPC president and a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “Appropriate collaboration across the industry and with state and federal government officials will minimise the number of pigs that must be euthanised and ensure that it is handled humanely, and that disposal is environmentally sound.”

Following is an example of the type of productive industry collaboration NPPC cited in its letter to the DOJ:

"To aid farmers in their unprecedented need to depopulate large numbers of hogs, NPPC is assisting its state organisations, state governments, and farmers in identifying sources of euthanasia equipment and is participating in discussions regarding the organisation of centralised euthanasia and disposal stations. This process includes disseminating projections as to the number of hogs those facilities may handle each day. NPPC and its members may seek to collaborate to discuss the most orderly and efficient euthanisation process.

NPPC’s business review letter can be read here. The DOJ’s response is available here.