Carthage Veterinary Service COVID-19 Pork Industry Update May 5, 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. Most US packing plants are currently struggling with labor shortages. Load volume for all producers has been significantly reduced.  Below is an update on current kill capacity for the packing plants we are tracking closely:
    2. Be sure to reach out to other smaller packers to inquire about open market loads. Some potential options:
      • Pork King – Marengo, IL – Phone number: (815) 568-8024
      • Spectrum Meats – Mt. Morris, IL – Phone number: (815) 946-3816
    3. CVS is continuing to work with other industry leaders to encourage the packing plants to implement practical social distancing plans that will allow them to get back to full capacity as soon as possible.
    4. Current industry slaughter weights have been trending up, however on average they have not reached critical levels yet. If your operation is reaching market weights above 330 lbs, please reach out to us and we will try to help as we can. 
    5. Peterson has been in contact with some small alternative packers and if we are able to find available slaughter capacity, we will try to prioritize it to the most critical needs.

Depopulation and Disposal

    1. This is a summary of a call Dr. Lower had with the Illinois State Veterinarian and Emergency Management Services:
      • Submitting applications for FEMA and USDA funding for depopulation and disposal costs. These are being calibrated between states for the asks are similar.  EPA and USDA are at odds whose budget these expenses should come from.  Currently, likelihood is low that there will be immediate funding for these activities.  Additionally, the State of Illinois is obviously not in a financial position to support.  We will continue to push the state to deliver a simplified, clear message to USDA and FEMA regarding the need for funds to cover disposal costs. 
      • Disposal discussion in the State of Illinois:
        • Landfill looks to be the most practical option at the is time. Schulte has been in contact with major landfills and they can accept the waste and have significant capacity. Cost is around $0.04/lb or $14/head (350 lbs).  There may be some limited assistance from the State with regard to transportation and heavy equipment. 
        • There have been no exemptions granted yet for above ground burial or grinding and land application of the mortalities. We continue to push on these fronts because the carbon requirement to compost large quantities of market hogs is too large to practically achieve.
        • EQUIP funding is the best option currently with regard to cost recovery and applications are to be submitted through the NRCS office.
      • A request to the veterinary stockpile was submitted on Monday for depopulation and disposal activities.
      • U of I is developing a call center to centralize the information and requests for assistance. This is being set up and will let you know when functional. 
    2. Schulte contacted Waste Management and they have multiple landfills that can accept euthanized market hogs. Their current capacity is approximately 1,800, 350 lb hogs per day.  The cost of disposal and transportation will be variable depending on proximity to the landfill, but will likely range from $12-16/pig.  If this service is needed, please contact us and we can provide more details.


  1. There is no progress yet on indemnity to the producer.  NPPC is working on advocating for that at the federal level. 


    1. The Small Business Administration is offering Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loans ONLY to agricultural business now. Visit the Small Business Administration’s website to learn more about applying.  This loan comes with a $10,000 advance that does not have to be repaid.
    2. We have added a Market Hog Trailer Stocking Recommendations spreadsheet to our COVID-19 Resources web page. This can be used to determine trailer stocking for heavy market hogs.
    3. It is still highly recommended that producers implement aggressive strategies to slow pig growth. Please refer to our Supply Chain Management During Plant Closures document for growth restriction methods. 

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