The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a $ 19 billion relief programme to help US farmers cope with the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). In total about $ 1.6 billion is intended to be spent on pig production.
“American agriculture has been hard-hit, like most of America, with the coronavirus, and president Trump is standing with our farmers and all Americans to make sure that we all get through this national emergency,” agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said at a news conference.
A pig farm in Iowa. The US pig industry can use some support in times of Covid-19. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek
The US Department of Agriculture money is divided as follows:
$ 16 billion will be made available in direct payments to farmers and ranchers. Of this amount, $ 9.6 million will go to the livestock industry, of which $ 1.6 billion is intended for hogs;
$ 3 billion will be made available through purchases of agriculture products, including meat, dairy and produce to support producers and provide food to those in need. Millions in the US face unemployment with much of the economy shut down.
Struggling to get goods to market
Long lines have formed at US food banks in recent weeks. According to news agency Reuters, farmers and ranchers have struggled to get their goods to market because of disruption caused by the pandemic, forcing some to throw out food and call for government help. Ag secretary Perdue said, “Having to dump milk or plow under vegetables ready to market is not only financially distressing but it’s heartbreaking as well for those that produce them.” He promised that direct payments would be sent ‘as quickly as possible’ as farm commodity producers have experienced ‘unprecedented losses’. He hoped checks could be sent by the end of May.
What impact is the pandemic having on the global pig sector and how are they dealing with it.
Outbreak on a meat plant in Minnesota
In the meantime, cases of Covid-19 have been found with employees of a JBS processing plant in Worthington, MN, United States. In total 19 people of the total of 2,000 employees were found infected. Sick employees have been confirmed in other processing plants throughout the country as well. In Sioux Falls, SD, a Smithfield plant had to be temporarily closed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.