As Congress considers a new wave of aid to combat the financial pressures of the coronavirus, the trade group representing the nation’s pork producers says it’s critical the new package include aid sufficient enough to keep struggling producers in business.
Leaders of the National Pork Producers Council say the industry is in dire threat of massive losses — after already suffering about $5 billion in economic setbacks — if the new aid package fails to help hog producers.
“We’re going to lose a lot of hog farmers - small, medium, and large; the question is how many,” Nick Giordano, NPPC’s chief lobbyist, told reporters Monday. “That’s going to depend on not only the continued impact of COVID, but on what the federal government is able to provide by the way of support.”
According to analysis by Kerns and Associates economist Steve Meyer, revenue from hog sales has been reduced by about $4.7 billion since the beginning of March. When coupled with other losses — euthanasia, disposal and donation of pigs, and other issues — the total climbs closer to $5 billon, a figure Meyer expects to continue increasing.
“I’ve been around the pork industry virtually all of my life, and I’m not terribly young anymore, but in the 30 years that I’ve been involved as an analyst, this is by far the largest economic hit that I’ve ever seen this industry take. We had a terrible hit in 1998, we had another one in 2009, but nothing compares to this.
“And it comes off a two-year period when we thought we were going to make money, but because of the trade disruptions, it’s been basically break-even for the average producer,” he noted.
Giordano said NPPC is seeking “open-ended” relief that would include indemnity payments for euthanized or donated hogs as well as direct payments for producers.
“We really don’t know what the final damage is going to be,” he added. “We understand, having said that, that nobody is going to be made whole. We’re just trying to keep as many producers as possible in business.”
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Some of NPPC’s priorities are addressed in the RELIEF for Producers Act, which was introduced by several Senate Republicans earlier this month. Giordano said NPPC is hopeful the legislation can be folded into the aid package currently being produced in the Senate.
Republican leaders visited with President Donald Trump at the White House Monday morning about their priorities for the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the aid package will need to stem off an “epidemic of lawsuits” that could arise as the country reopens, and Trump reiterated his push to include a payroll tax cut in the bill.
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