Hog producers are asking the Department of Agriculture to provide a direct influx of cash without eligibility restrictions as the industry expects to lose $5 billion for the remainder of the year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are in crisis and need immediate government intervention to sustain a farm sector essential to the nation’s food supply,” National Pork Producers Council President A.V. Roth said on a press call Tuesday afternoon.

Closed restaurants and food service companies, and slowdowns at packing plants are causing hog values to drop sharply as the industry deals with an oversupply of pigs.

An analysis of the pork sector from March 10 to April 10 by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes and Kerns and Associates economist Steve Meyer estimates producers will lose nearly $37 for each hog marketed for the rest of the year.

NPPC would like to see USDA make direct payments to pork producers without eligibility restrictions.

NPPC CEO Neil Dierks said those payments often go directly to the lender, which "helps keep the operation in good standing on the lending side, and that is the reasoning for accessibility of no limitations,” said on the call.

NPPC is also asking USDA to buy over $1 billion in pork to shrink the meat supply and give it to food banks facing increased demands due to rising unemployment numbers.

“We want the purchases to be noncommercial,” said Dallas Hockman, vice president of industry relations at NPPC. “We do not want to compete with any other businesses out there producing the product.”

They also want Congress to fix emergency loan programs offered by the Small Business Administration to include pork producers.

The industry has already faced two challenging years because of retaliatory trade tariffs from China. Before the virus outbreak, producers were expecting to make a $10 profit per hog in 2020.

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