December 21, 2020
Congress is expected to vote today on a COVID-relief package and an omnibus appropriations bill that funds the government through Sept. 30, 2021. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging members of Congress to vote yes on these critically important bills.
Several high-priority NPPC asks are included in these measures: $635 million to ensure U.S. agriculture inspectors are fully funded; extension of livestock mandatory price reporting until Sept. 30, 2021; $20 million in funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; $284.5 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which removes restrictive language that prevented some pork producers from eligibility; and funding to compensate hog farmers who were forced to euthanize animals due to COVID-related supply chain disruptions, valued at 80% of the animal’s value and for the cost incurred during the process.
“We urge Congress to quickly pass both measures,” stated NPPC president Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “We are thankful for several vital provisions in the omnibus bill, including strengthening biosecurity at our borders to keep foreign animal diseases (FAD) outside the country. If a FAD were to enter the U.S. swine herd, the consequences would be disastrous, and a devastating blow to hog farmers already teetering on the financial edge due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Since the summer, NPPC has been leading the charge in advocating for emergency congressional action to address the significant shortfall in agricultural inspection funding. Due to the recent economic downturn and COVID-related restrictions, travel-based collection of user fees that pay for agricultural inspection programs at U.S. borders has declined precipitously. NPPC said U.S. agriculture inspectors are the first line of defense to protect against foreign animal and plant diseases and urged Congress to quickly approve funding for this critically important provision.
“We also deeply appreciate Congress including emergency funds in the COVID relief bill available to our producers,” Roth said. “The dual challenges of trade retaliation and the COVID pandemic have caused us to lose hog farmers of all sizes, and these funds in the COVID relief bill will provide much-needed help for pork producers to weather this difficult time.”
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