Carthage Veterinary Service COVID-19 Pork Industry Update May 8, 2020

  1. 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. All regional packing plants are now open but many still operating at reduced capacity due to continued 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:

    3. USDA Secretary Perdue issued a letter to packers and state governors this week reminding them of their obligation under President Trumps executive order to resume operations.  Guidance for plants to resume and continue operations will be issued solely by the CDC and OSHA, through the USDA moving forward.  This will remove the local health departments and local governments from the decision making process and provide a clear, singular set of guidelines for operation at the plants. 
    4. Current industry slaughter weights continue to trend up. If your operation is reaching market weights above 330 lbs, please reach out to us and we will try to help as we can.  

Depopulation and Disposal

    1. Illinois Department of Agriculture continues to push the USDA for assistance with depopulation and disposal. Acting Director, Jerry Costello II, sent a letter to the USDA requesting additional assistance with the projected displacement of 740,000 hogs in the next 90 days. Highlights:
      • Depopulation: Humane euthanasia is a priority of the State, veterinarians and producers. Distribution of funds will only be made to producers and herd veterinarians using American Veterinary Medical Association approved depopulation methods. Many producers are not trained or prepared to handle depopulation, looking to the USDA for “boots on the ground” assistance as witnessed during the avian influenza outbreak.
      • Disposal: Illinois’ farmers are stewards of the land. As traditional disposal methods become unavailable due to demand or financial resources are unavailable for proper disposal, we request funds to ensure disposal occurs in an environmentally responsible manner.
    1. A group of Illinois producers continue to work on mobile euthanasia trailer options for large numbers of market hogs. More information will be made available as these are tested and ready, but please reach out to us if you have the need in the meantime.  We have multiple options for euthanasia ready to implement if it becomes necessary.
    2. Dr. Mark Ernst, State Veterinarian for the IL Dept. of Agriculture, continues to push USDA and has requested:
      • NRCS EQUIP funds
      • Changes to the carcass disposal rules. This appears to be gaining traction, we will update next week as we learn more.
    3. Landfill looks to be the most practical option for carcass disposal at this time
      • We have been in contact with multiple landfills in IL to give them advanced notice and gather information required to dispose of market hogs. We have assembled multiple options.
      • Waste Management has multiple landfills that can accept euthanized market hogs. The cost of disposal and transportation will be variable depending on proximity to the landfill, but will likely range from $12-16/pig.
    4. Rendering Opportunities
      • Darling Rendering has locations in Mason City, IL, East St. Louis, Clinton, IA, Des Moines, and Kansas City with limited availability as they are booking up quickly.
      • One load = 45,000-47,000 lbs (150-160 hd)
      • They can provide trucking, especially if the locations are within 120 miles of the plant ($2.50-2.75/mile)
      • Price is calculated based on the market from the prior Friday, i.e. $2.38 cwt this week.


    1. Illinois Department of Agriculture sent a letter to the USDA to reiterate the need:
      • “Illinois’ producers are forced into a position to euthanize animals raised under their care and input costs but with no compensation. USDA indemnity is in alignment with past practice for foreign animal disease response. Indemnity provides the agricultural industry with a bridge to ensure continuity of operations. We encourage the use of the swine indemnity calculator for the purposes of indemnity.”


  1. IPPA Call to Action
      • The Illinois Pork Producers Association needs you to contact your state and federal legislators with the following message in order to protect the immediate future of pig farmers in our state.
      • All you have to do is click the link to fill out the automated form. It does the work for you!

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