The National Pork Producers Council in a letter sent today urged the US Department of Agriculture to help the US pork industry deal with the negative effects of what initially was misnamed “swine” influenza and is now known as the H1N1 flu or Influenza A.
Pork producers, who prior to the announcement of the current flu “outbreak” already were losing money, have seen losses accelerate to an average of $17.69 on each hog marketed as of May 1. Total losses reached $7.2 million a day between April 24 and May 1.
“Given those loses and based on May 1 futures prices,” said NPPC President Don Butler, “a bad situation for pork producers has been exacerbated and could get worse unless the industry gets some relief.”
To help stem the losses US pork producers are incurring, NPPC has asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to:
• Implement a USDA purchase program for $50 million of pork products to help boost cash hog prices. Products can be put into federal emergency food programs, food pantries, senior/elderly feeding programs, hunger programs and other non-commercial food channels.
• Urge President Obama to work with US trading partners to remove all restrictions on exports of US pork and pork products and to maintain US pork export markets around the world.
• Develop a comprehensive surveillance program for swine diseases, which will provide an early warning for emerging diseases that affect human and animal health. Mandatory premises and animal identification would be necessary for an effective surveillance program.
• Work to keep open the border between the United States and Canada – in the wake of a report that pigs on a Canadian pork operation contracted from a worker the H1N1 flu – to allow hog movements.
NPPC told Sec. Vilsack it would identify and bring to his attention other actions USDA could take to assist the US pork industry during the current situation.