Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig has announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is launching a disposal assistance program to help pork producers who are unable to harvest pigs due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, according to a department release.
“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented, ongoing disruptions to the food supply chain,” said Secretary Naig in the release. “Pork producers are going to extraordinary lengths to donate pork to food banks and identify other markets for their animals but, in many cases, it’s not enough to make up for the backlog happening on farms. Producers are being forced to make very difficult decisions and this is one way the state is working to support them during these extremely challenging times.”
Iowa State University estimates that, as of mid-May, approximately 600,000 pigs in Iowa were unable to be harvested because of the disruption COVID-19 has caused to the packing plants, the release says.
Producers are working with the Resource Coordination Center, operated by the Department of Agriculture, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, to explore every option to harvest livestock. They are also changing the animals’ diets to slow the rate of growth, contacting other meat lockers, and making donations to the Pass the Pork program.
When producers are unable to harvest their livestock, they may be forced to humanely euthanize their animals to prevent welfare issues. The Iowa Disposal Assistance Program will provide financial resources to help cover the cost of disposing of animals in an environmentally-sound way, the release says.
The program will offer producers $40 per approved animal to help cover some of the disposal costs for market-ready hogs (weighing at least 225 pounds). Producers must provide documentation, including proof of proper disposal, and an affidavit from their herd veterinarian confirming impending welfare issues, to receive funding.
The disposal assistance funding will be made available to Iowa producers in at least three rounds. Each approved applicant will receive funding for at least 1,000 animals and up to 30,000 animals per round, depending on the number of applicant, the release notes.
To qualify for the first round of funding, producers must submit their applications to the Iowa Department of Agriculture between May 26-29. The first round of applicants will be notified of approval on June 1. The first round of approved applicants must properly dispose of their animals by June 5. Disposal claims must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture by June 8.
It will begin accepting applications for the second and third rounds of disposal assistance on June 1 and June 9, respectively. The Department is also exploring options to assist producers who have conducted euthanasia and disposal between May 1-26, 2020, the release says.
To apply for the disposal assistance program, visit iowaagriculture.gov/idap. Questions about the program can be directed to (515) 281-5321 or [email protected].