Pork leader says COVID is adding to pork production costs
The President of the National Pork Producers Council says the lack of processing capacity is affecting the producers’ bottom line. Howard AV Roth tells Brownfield in states without enough processing plants, like his home state of Wisconsin, producers often have to ship hogs long distances for slaughter. “It’s a disadvantage of about three to five dollars. It depends on where you are in Wisconsin. (It’s a) disadvantage for producing that animal and getting it to a market versus Iowa or Illinois. That’s just going from Wisconsin to Iowa. Think about if you had to go from North Carolina to Illinois or Iowa.”
And because of the pandemic, Roth says that processing bottleneck is an added expense for producers as more hogs get shipped to the Midwest. “They’ve been shipping pigs back to the Midwest just to get them slaughtered, but there’s a worry that they may have to start euthanizing because they’re getting too big out there.”
Roth says the last USDA pigs and hogs report shows producers are backed up more than 1.2 million pigs, mostly on the east coast where processors are around 30% short on staff because of COVID 19 related absences.
Roth says right now, there is very little the USDA can do to help producers who must donate or euthanize pigs, but NPPC is pushing Congress to change the Commodity Credit Corporation charter to give USDA the ability to help. He’s also optimistic a new processing facility will be built in Wisconsin within the next five years.