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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Monday sent a bipartisan letter with 13 of his Senate colleagues to Congressional leaders seeking additional funding for programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would assist pork producers who are being forced to depopulate livestock herds because of restaurant and meat processing plant closures during the pandemic. Farmers are facing an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding and the challenge of providing enough feed and water available to each animal. There are pigs in various stages of the six month growth process that have nowhere to go.

“The crisis is immediate. Pork producers send to market over two million pigs each week. If twenty percent of processing is idle, that means somewhere around 400,000 animals per week must be disposed of in some manner other than processing. Accordingly, government support is needed in the management of a sensible depopulation of the herd until plant operations stabilize,” the senators wrote.

“Given these significant social and economic consequences, we must prioritize funding to indemnify producers who are depopulating herds due to processing plant closures. Assistance is needed for humane euthanization and disposal which will require the coordination of the human, animal, and environmental health communities,” the senators continued.

“U.S. hog farmers are in dire straits and face the tragic need to euthanize animals due to circumstances beyond their control,” National Pork Producers President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin said. “We thank Sens. Grassley, Ernst and Smith for leading efforts to compensate pork producers and help them weather this crisis. Without this and other much-needed assistance, we face consolidation and contraction of a critical farm sector. ”

“Sadly, pork producers here in Iowa and around the country have had to make tragic decisions to euthanize animals intended for the food supply,” National Pork Producers President-Elect Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms said. “That goes against every farming instinct. We need significant help to support U.S. pork producers that generate more than 500,000 jobs and $23 billion in personal income across America. We appreciate the tireless efforts of Sens. Grassley and Ernst to help hog farmers throughout this crisis.”

The letter to Congressional leaders was signed by Grassley along with Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.