More members of Congress are now calling on President Donald Trump to engage the Federal Emergency Management Agency in helping pay for depopulation and disposal of animal remains on livestock and poultry farms.
In a letter sent Friday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa, D-Calif., and a bipartisan group of 15 Midwest House members asked the president to provide guidance on how FEMA could help livestock producers following the closure of meatpacking plants due to coronavirus outbreaks and worker safety concerns.
“Even as plants begin to reopen, meat and poultry plants are expected to operate below maximum capacity for the foreseeable future in order to maintain appropriate public health and worker safety precautions meaning that, unfortunately, depopulation will continue,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter, pointing out that plant closures and backups have left producers with little to no alternative options.
Specifically, the lawmakers request that the administration allow for expenses related to livestock depopulation and disposal to be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program.
Lawmakers pointed out right now at least 10,000 pigs a day are being depopulated in Minnesota alone as pork producers have no other option to deliver hogs to market.
The letter reflects that lawmakers concede USDA will not be providing more aid such as direct payments for depopulation. USDA had stated to DTN on Friday that the Natural Resources Conservation Service is helping with some guidance, but it is not providing farmers with indemnities. The letter also goes along with other reports that the Trump administration is not interested in another aid package right now that would allow Congress to tack on funds and authorization for a depopulation indemnity program.
Five Republican House members from Illinois had earlier asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to help compensate farmers for euthanization and disposal. Those lawmakers included Reps. Reps. John Shimkus, Rodney Davis, Mike Bost, Darin LaHood and Adam Kinzinger.
The National Pork Producers Council noted in a newsletter that for a state to be eligible for emergency support from FEMA, the governor must make the request.
House Ag letter: https://agriculture.house.gov/…
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
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