On Tuesday, Congressman Jim Hagedorn (MN-01), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, introduced legislation titled the "Livestock Producer Assistance for COVID-19 Damages Act."
Hagedorn's bill expands the USDA's Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm Raised Catfish Program to provide indemnity payments for farmers and producers who were not able to market livestock due to packing plant closures or reduced operations beginning on April 19. The bill also provides appropriations and specific guidance as to how the funds will be used.
"The ongoing pandemic and disruption to livestock markets has quickly moved family farmers to the brink of insolvency, something that threatens our nation's food supply and the vibrancy of our southern Minnesota economy and rural way of life," says Hagedorn.
"The virus has caused the closure or reduced operations of many meat packing plants across the country, resulting in supply chain disruptions and dramatic market losses. With the pork industry using an in-time delivery system, hogs cannot be stored or pastured; and our farmers are being forced to find methods for housing animals while maintaining their health and safety. Until meat packing plants return fully online, many pork producers are left with no place to market their hogs, leaving euthanasia as the only option. Pork and livestock producers are suffering huge financial losses through no fault of their own, and it is imperative for Congress to step up and sustain our farmers during these incredibly difficult times.
"USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program was designed to help the agriculture industry, however the program does not cover income loss resulting from the recent meat packing plant closures. My legislation was crafted and introduced based upon several long discussions with local producers and industry leaders. I will always stand with our family farmers and defend the interests of southern Minnesotans."
Full text of the legislation can be found here.