While pork packing plant capacity has increased in the last few weeks, Minnesota Pork Producers Association CEO David Preisler said it’s going to be difficult for the pork industry to move forward. Minnesota’s pork packing plants are running up to 80 percent capacity. “Unfortunately, if things stay at 80 percent for very long, we’ll still be backing pigs up and that’s problematic. We still have hogs that need to be euthanized, but we do think it will be less than we thought one month ago,” explained Preisler. “Animals are being held and then, some different channels of marketing happened.” More than 250,000 market weight hogs have been euthanized in Minnesota. Weaning hogs are also being euthanized, but this number is more difficult to track. Preisler said one thing that could help is to continue increasing packing plant capacity, but this won’t happen quickly. The backlog is expected continue for a few more months. “The great unknown producers have is if there will be any financial support to put pigs down. It’s really difficult for producers to make that decision, because that means you’ve made the decision to make zero revenue and to have the cost of euthanizing and properly disposing of a carcass. It adds insult to injury.” There are currently two hog disposal locations in the state and a third disposal location will open soon in Freeborn county. The state has funding available to create mobile trailers for euthanasia work. Preisler said the association is also asking state lawmakers to consider direct payments to farmers during the upcoming special session. On the federal level, the HEROES Act being considered could provide some assistance. “This would provide revenue to farms that would put pigs down, but it doesn’t pay full value for the pig. I don’t think anyone could expect that to happen,” said Preisler. “We are appreciative of the work being done, but this bill hasn’t been taken up in the Senate at this point.”
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