Senators push for pandemic aid for swine producers

Senators push for pandemic aid for swine producers

Donlaya | rawpixel.com

Bipartisan letter sent to USDA secretary seeks to ensure that swine producers are eligible for pandemic financial assistance

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack seeking to ensure that swine producers are eligible for pandemic financial assistance provided by Congress.

The August 9 letter, signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was sent after the Biden administration neglected to mention assistance to swine producers and growers in a Pandemic Assistance for Producers announcement in June or in a Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program announcement in July.

“Our livestock and poultry contract growers have been waiting patiently for USDA to provide financial relief that so many desperately need. We’re concerned that USDA’s announcement on June 15 – that described its intent to finalize this program within 60 days – only focused on poultry growers and made no mention of providing assistance to contract swine growers,” the letter said. “Additionally, many pork producers have been waiting for USDA to roll out the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program swine top-up payments that was announced in January of this year.”

In the letter, the senators acknowledged that time is needed during the transitions between administrations to evaluate programs.

“However, over the past eight months, USDA has given no indication as to how it plans to put these funds to use. Our producers are still feeling the economic hardships of the pandemic and look forward to USDA carrying out this program,” the letter said.

Late last year, Congress passed a bipartisan COVID relief package that included assistance to contract livestock and poultry producers, as well as to agricultural producers, growers, processors, specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry.

On January 15, USDA announced Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 1 top-up payments for swine producers with approved CFAP 1 applications. Those approved were to automatically receive a top-up payment of US$17 per head increasing the total CFAP1 inventory payment to US$34 per head. Under the Biden administration, USDA placed this under review and has since provided no update, the senators said.