Ag Policy Blog

Justice Clears Pork Producers to Collaborate on Euthanasia Challenge

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Pork producers are faced with euthanizing as many as 700,000 hogs weekly because of packing plant closures. The National Pork Producers Council received a letter from the Department of Justice on Friday assuring there would be no anti-trust issues in collaborating about such a challenge. (DTN file photo)

The Department of Justice informed the National Pork Producers Council on Friday that the department says it is OK for hog producers to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on euthanasia and disposal of animals.

NPPC had raised concerns in a letter last week to DOJ that discussion and collaboration about euthanasia could be perceived as violating antitrust laws. The trade association asked DOJ officials for a "business review letter" asking for a favorable response from DOJ in dealing with the national emergency. The pork producers and USDA recognize that due to packing-plant shutdowns, the industry could be faced with euthanizing as many as 700,000 hogs a week as the slow down in processing leads to hogs becoming too large for packers to accept in a timely fashion.

NPPC stated in its letter to DOJ that the groups goals are to maximize the total number of hogs processed for food but also minimize the number of hogs that must be euthanized and disposed of. Still, the processes of euthanizing hogs leads to discussions and collaboration among competitors and government officials.

In its response, DOJ stated that NPPC and its members can work at the direction of USDA and state officials to humanely and efficiently euthanize hogs that have become unmarketable. NPPC can also share information about best practices for depopulating herds as well.

“Today’s letter addresses some of the challenges created for farmers when packing capacity shuts down,” stated Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “Meanwhile, we remain committed to vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws to ensure that farmers and consumers see the benefits of competition.”

NPPC's letter to DOJ:…

DOJ's response to NPPC:…

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