US pig industry facing $5bn COVID-19 ‘financial disaster’

Read full article

US pig producers are facing a financial disaster and collective losses of $5 billion for the remainder of the year as pig prices plummet due to the the impact of COVID-19, the National Pork Producers Council has warned.

At a press briefing, NPPC president Howard ‘AV’ Roth, a pork producer from Wisconsin, called for Government support for farming families struggling during the crisis, including a £1bn pork purchase scheme.

“We remain committed to supplying Americans with high-quality US pork, but face a dire situation that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of farm families. We are taking on water fast. Immediate action is imperative, or a lot of hog farms will go under,” he said.

At the weekend, the world’s biggest pork processor, Smithfield, announced the temporary closure of one of its biggest plants, at Sioux Falls, in South Dakota, representing an estimated 4-5% of US pork production. This was after 238 employees had active cases of COVID-19.

The move followed other significant plant closures across the US, prompting Smithfield chief executive Ken Sullivan to warn that the US is moving ‘perilously close to the edge’ in terms of meat supply.

The NPPC said the suspension of pork packing plant operations and rising employee absenteeism due to COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing harvest (processing) facility capacity challenge due to a labour shortage in rural America.

This limited capacity has created a surplus of pigs, causing values to plunge, while the loss of the food services market and the COVID-related slowdown in most export markets has ‘crashed demand and overwhelmed the cold storage of meat’.

Read full article Share on twitter