Due to packing plant shutdowns across the country, many pork producers have been struggling to find places to harvest their animals, which is having a dramatic impact on South Dakota's pork producers. South Dakota State University Extension swine specialists and meat science faculty, staff and students from the Department of Animal Science, have worked with the South Dakota Pork Producers Council to aid the swine industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SDSU Meat Lab is working with the SDPPC to harvest animals and provide state-inspected pork sides for further processing to help support South Dakota pork producers. The Meat Lab's goal is to harvest and process 90 pigs per week through Aug. 14.
On May 22, the SDPPC gave away 13,000 pounds of pork in Aberdeen. The pork had been donated by pork producers in the state. A second giveaway is tentatively scheduled for June 30 in Yankton.
"This project demonstrates the cooperative efforts between multiple facets of the pork chain to respond to the needs of our producers and to feed South Dakotans," says John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
The South Dakota Pork Producers Council is working to connect processors and producers as the project moves forward. The processors will purchase pigs from producers and the producers will deliver the pigs to SDSU for slaughter. The processor who owns the pigs will then pick up the carcasses and pay SDSU for the slaughter costs.
"South Dakota pork producers are very concerned about the shortage of protein in the retail meat counters while they are struggling and unable to find a market for the animals they are raising due to limited packer capacity," says Glenn Muller, executive director of the SDPPC. "This event allows our local producers to give back to communities and directly to consumers in need during these unusual times."
Additionally, SDSU Extension specialists are providing guidance to producers facing processing shutdowns and consumers looking to purchase and process hogs at home.
For more information, contact the SDPPC at 605-332-1600.