The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service is creating a National Incident Coordination Center to help producers who cannot take animals to market as meat processing facilities close due to COVID-19.

USDA’s coordination center will assist producers in identifying potential alternative markets if a producer cannot move animals, and officials would provide advice and assistance on depopulation and disposal methods if action becomes necessary. The move comes after several beef, pork, and poultry plants have closed in recent weeks as more employees contract the coronavirus.

The closings have left pork producers like Mike Paustian of Walcott, Iowa nowhere to take their finished hogs.

“It’s definitely a scary situation for producers,” he told Agri-Pulse earlier this week. “Everyone’s kind of holding their breath right now to see how this is all going to shake out.”

APHIS also is working to mobilize and deploy National Veterinary Stockpile assets needed along with securing services of contractors the help supply additional equipment and personnel like it did during the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak of 2015.

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The Natural Resources Conservation Service will also provide cost-share assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program according to guidelines for disposal.

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