A group of five Republican Illinois congressmen have written the state's Democratic governor calling on him to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds to help pork producers in the state.
The letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker states pork industry in Illinois and nationally "is currently in crisis mode." Citing the closing of packing plants because of COVID-19, the congressmen state "pork producers are in desperate need of assistance to prevent further financial harm."
The lawmakers point out more than 750,000 hogs right now have no market as restaurants and schools are close due to mandates from the governor. Combined with the closure of packing plants, "this will result in producers euthanizing many hundreds of thousands of market-ready herds." The financial impacts of those decisions "will be devastating for years to come."
The congressmen in their letter note a governor must request emergency support from FEMA, and the lawmakers want aid to producers to help dispose of hog carcasses "in a manner that protects public health and safety, and ensure that financial assistance is provided to producers in covering disposal costs." The lawmakers state such assistance is provided under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The fact that the five congressman are asking their governor to reach out to FEMA for this aid reflects a position House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also highlighted last week on USDA right now. USDA officials do not believe they have the funding or the authority to help producers with euthanasia or animal disposal because the livestock themselves are not infected with an infectious disease.
So far, the letter from the Illinois congressmen appears to be the first one from a congressional delegation asking a state governor to seek aid from FEMA for livestock producers during this crisis.
Reps. Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood and John Shimkus signed on to the letter. Bost and Davis are members of the House Agriculture Committee.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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