Members of Congress Urge USDA to Provide Assistance to Pork Producers

April 16, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTONU.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today led a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to take immediate action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork food supply chain. The letter follows the closure of the Smithfield processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Smithfield also recently announced the closure of its plant in Martin City, Missouri, which receives raw materials from the Sioux Falls plant.

“We hope this component of the supply chain is restored quickly,” the members of Congress wrote.  “However, in the event that producers are unable to schedule harvest of their hogs, we request that you consider how to use your existing authorities and available funds to compensate producers for losses. Furthermore, we request that Natural Resource Conservation Service consider how to provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for affected producers, if needed.”

Joining Thune and Johnson in sending the letter were Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds, (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Cindy Axne, (D-Iowa), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.),Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue, 

We write to bring your attention to the closure of the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, SD and to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork supply chain.

On April 12, 2020, Smithfield Foods announced it will indefinitely close its Sioux Falls plant due to a COVID-19 outbreak.  This plant provides approximately 130 million servings of pork per week, and we are concerned about the impact this closure will have not only on the plant employees, but also on the more than 500 independent family farms who supply the plant.  

To assist pork producers during this difficult time, we request that USDA conduct pork purchases and provide financial assistance to producers. We request that assistance be provided in an equitable manner that recognizes the various challenges pork producers are facing due to COVID-19 and limits market distortions.  

We hope this component of the supply chain is restored quickly.  However, in the event that producers are unable to schedule harvest of their hogs, we request that you consider how to use your existing authorities and available funds to compensate producers for losses.  Furthermore, we request that Natural Resource Conservation Service consider how to provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for affected producers, if needed.

It is critically important that we maintain our pork supply chain to ensure that consumers continue to have access to high-quality pork products in grocery stores and supermarkets throughout the country, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.  Thank you for your continued efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on U.S. agriculture and for your prompt attention to our request.

Sincerely,

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