Carthage Veterinary Service COVID-19 Pork Industry Update May 1, 2020

Carthage Veterinary Service is working diligently to support you and the industry through the current crisis.  This is a status update to hit industry highlights and our focus on the following 3 KEY areas:

    1. Keep packing plants running in full production
    2. If required, support depopulation and disposal
    3. Indemnity payments for loss of livestock

Keeping plants open

    1. President Trumps Executive Order under the Defense Production Act to keep packing plants operational will likely have longer term benefits by providing a single set of rules and requirements for operation versus leaving the decisions to the local health departments, in addition to making resources available to the plants for PPE and testing.  The impact will not be immediate, but provides a much clearer path forward.
    2. Current status of packing plant closures and % processing, along with projected open date if available:
          • Rantoul – currently not running at full capacity due to labor and meat inspection constraints.
          • Monmouth – Currently planning to restart operations of Saturday, May 2.  They anticipate running at partial capacity next week and hope to be at full capacity the following week.
          • For a complete list of US plant status’, visit the Pork Checkoff Interactive Map
    3. The have been some rumors regarding packing plants running into shortages of USDA Inspectors.  FSIS confirmed yesterday that this is not a bottleneck they are aware of.

Depopulation and Disposal

    1. IPPA has compiled the following list of maximum slaughter weights for the regional packers.  If euthanasia of heavy market hogs becomes necessary these weights can be used as a guideline for which hogs to euthanize.  It is highly recommended to only euthanize the hogs that are over these weights as the situation with packing capacity is extremely dynamic and shackle space could come available at any time.
    2. A small group of Illinois producers are working on a mobile euthanasia trailer capable of humanely, and efficiently euthanizing large numbers of market hogs.  This trailer should be operational within a week.  Emergency response trailers are also being inventoried and prepped to provide additional support in the event large scale euthanasia is required.
    3. Dr. Lower, Dr. Lowe and Dr. Jay Miller have been providing resource material to IDOA and IEPA regarding the dead animal disposal act.  Regulations from other states such as Nebraska are being presented to IDOA and IEPA for precedent.  IPPA is working with IDOA to get updated changes in the rule via an executive order or other means that can move quickly.
    4. Dr. Lower had a call with Illinois Emergency Management on Tuesday night, including the Director of Ag – Jerry Costello.  This group is leading the coordination and preparation efforts as depopulation and disposal will be needed.  We updated the Director on our discussions with the Illinois plants regarding ability to depopulate swine if they have labor constraints.  This is low likelihood due to the federal order signed Tuesday ordering plants to stay in operation.   There is a lot of optimism that FEMA funds will be available for depopulation and disposal costs to producers, potentially covering up to 75% of the cost.
    5. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial and technical assistance to livestock producers for animal mortality disposal, resulting from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Producers facing livestock depopulation are encouraged to file the EQIP application (Form CCC-1200) with their local NRCS field office. You must work through your NRCS office for this process.
          • To receive assistance, both an application and approved early start waiver must be filed with the local NRCS field office prior to disposal of animal carcasses.
            • Producers must have farm records established with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), meet all eligibility requirements, and have application filed at the local NRCS.
            • Payment cap is $25,000 per practice.
            • Producer must follow an NRCS-approved design for the site.
          • Conversion Factor: 1,000 lbs = Animal Unit (AU)
            One Animal Unit (AU) = 80 Weaning Pigs or 3.5 Market Hogs or 2 Sows or 1 Cow
            *Historically Underserved (HU) producers, including socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and beginning farmers/veterans, are eligible for an increased payment rate.
    6. Dr. Johnson has worked with National Pork Board to trial a suckling pig euthanasia technique.  Equipment is being acquired and should be evaluated for feasibility by the second week of May.


    1. House Agriculture Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Colin Peterson (MN) announced on Wednesday, April, 29 at a press conference in Worthington MN that the next COVID-19 relief bill will have funding for indemnity for producers that have to euthanize healthy hogs.  NPB and NPPC have asked for $1.5 billion in funding for indemnity.


Please continue to check our Carthage Veterinary Service COVID-19 Resources web page for tools and new information.