What You Need to Know (revised Aug. 25)

E-newsletter updates on COVID-19 for IPPA members

Resource Coordination Center connects farmers to experts

Information and technical specialists are on hand to help Iowa’s pig farmers with today’s challenges at the Iowa Resource Coordination Center.

The joint project between the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University can put you in touch just by registering or calling 515-725-1005.

Download this flyer to have the contact information always on hand.

Economic Recovery webinars for pork producers

The Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa Pork Producers Association are hosting an Producer Recovery Webinar Series focusing on information producers can use to find opportunities for making key decisions in this difficult time.

The one-hour webinars will be offered on four consecutive Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from Aug. 19 through Sept. 9. During each webinar, participants will have the opportunity to interact, ask questions, and learn from the presenters featured each week. Here is the schedule of topics and speakers:

  • Aug. 19 – Evaluating Hog Supply Agreements: A Peek Inside the USDA’s Swine Contract Library with Tim Hughes, a client service manager at Commodity and Ingredient Hedging
  • Aug. 26 – What Do I Do Now? with Joe Kerns, managing director of Kerns and Associates
  • Sept. 2 – A Market Outlook During Turbulent Times with Lee Schulz, associate livestock economics professor at Iowa State University
  • Sept. 9 – Different Tools in the Tool Box with Pat VonTersch, owner of Professional Ag Marketing

The event is free, but you must register to receive the Webex login information. You can register any time before the event starts. You can access the series via computer or mobile device with internet connection.

The purpose of the series is to help pig farmers identify opportunities for making key financial decisions in this difficult time.

Euthanasia, composting of surplus animals

UPDATE May 22: All pork processing plants were operating. Estimates are that plant operations averaged across the country are at about 75% capacity. Read: How COVID-19 has Impacted our Food Supply Chain and Iowa Pork Producers (as of May 8)

The uptick in processing doesn’t erase the bottleneck that has occurred on farms. For information and resources about euthanasia and disposal options, use the Iowa Resource Coordination Center.

Composting Toolbox Provides Calculators and Instructions: This online toolbox offers three different calculators to determine resources needed for mass disposals; standard operating procedures for different types of disposal; and a recorded webinar (from April 29) on emergency carcass disposal, along with slides from the webinar and the Q&A that followed.

Swine depopulation and disposal records: The Pork Checkoff has developed a downloadable form to help producers keep detailed records on the euthanasia and disposal actions they need to take because of COVID-19 impacts on packing plants. While there are no dollars currently available for compensation, such funds are being requested through a joint effort of IPPA, the state of Iowa, and National Pork Producers Council.

The form is intended for producer records only; it is not for submission to any group and does not substitute for the information required to participate in NRCS EQIP.

Assistance available for animal disposal

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Animal Mortality program resources:

USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP): Applications are due Aug. 28. In total, it will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In addition to direct support, CFAP also allocates $3 billion for purchases of meat and other commodities for food banks and pantries.

Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will accept applications from farmers who have losses because of COVID-19. If you have worked with FSA in the recent past, they likely have all the information they need and you can submit your CFAP application.

  • Livestock eligible for direct payment include hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between Jan. 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.
  • There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farm. Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75% or more of their income is derived from farming.  Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions if applicable.
  • Information on other commodities can also be found at the USDA site

To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.

If you have not worked with FSA before, contact your local office to discuss what information you need to submit. This will include your basic contact information, as well as compliance with other FSA requirements noted above. In addition, they will need direct deposit information.

Review farm security, especially if using euthanasia

Ensure your security on your farm and to your buildings, as activist activity is on the rise in Iowa. An organization called Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) has created an online map using Google Earth to give exact locations of pig farms—both large and small—as well as processing plants. (The identification process looked for particular building types and used public information to create the maps.) DXE is encouraging their followers to go to these sites and get photos and videos of activity.

The Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers has a tip sheet on the topic. In a recent webinar, an FBI Special Agent for Iowa and Nebraska encouraged producers who have information about activists’ arrests by local law enforcement to share the case or report number of the incident and a brief summary of the incident (as observed by the farmer) with him. He is building a database of activity in the Midwest.

The Animal Ag Alliance offers SMART guidelines:

  • Secure – maintain basic security with locks, alarms and cameras
  • Monitor – watch for suspicious activity
  • Alert – build rapport with law enforcement and report concerns
  • Research – know your rights as a property and business owner
  • Take action – make farm security a priority

Feeling stressed? Need to talk?

Staying resilient can be hard through tremendous financial and emotional challenges. Reach out to a spouse, friend, business partner, veterinarian, lender, or health care provider. Or, find someone outside your personal network who can provide you with guidance and ideas about working through that trauma. You can also call a national help line.

Even if you think you’re handling the stress well, be aware that it can still show up 4 to 6 months from now. And, if this situation isn’t impacting you at this time, listen to and talk with others being impacted.

A webinar (watch below) hosted by the Iowa Pork Industry Center provides practical tools and information to develop mental health resilience and coping strategies. The presentation included a handout with key points and resources, as well as information for identifying stress and managing it for yourself and others.

Catastrophic losses expected for Iowa pig farmers in 2020

We’ve seen the negative impact of COVID-19 on pork prices due to bottlenecks in the supply chain. Beyond that, Iowa’s pork industry was already weakened by trade retaliation and labor shortages the past two years. IPPA has developed an information sheet about COVID-19 Pandemic Realities for Iowa Pork Producers, to help you tell your economic story to others.

Business: When is enough, enough?

Particularly for those managing small, independent sow farms, what should you consider when deciding how long to keep going with your operation? Farm Financial Planning is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s FREE and CONFIDENTIAL farm financial analysis program takes the guesswork out of whether or not a change would increase your profitability and improve cash flow.

Get one-on-one financial counseling, a computerized analysis of the farm business (required by many lenders before they will extend further credit), and referrals to other Extension or third-party services that may be useful.

Anyone can set up an appointment. Contact an associate in your area.

Nutrition strategies to slow pig growth

Several producers are slowing down pig growth to manage the impacts of COVID-19 on their farms. To reduce pig growth, consider these tips:

  • Transition to low-energy, high-fiber diets
  • Limit feed intake
  • Feed high levels of calcium chloride
  • Feed corn-only diets
  • Control barn temperatures
  • Control stocking density

The Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach hosted a two-part webinar (May 28 and April 21) with information farmers can use to slow pig growth. Drs. John Patience, Nick Gabler and Laura Greiner from ISU Animal Science swine nutrition faculty discuss the strategies and share data from completed and ongoing research trials to talk about carcass impact, as well as efficacy of the strategies.

Supportive Documents

Regulations and allowances

Agriculture and food production is a critical and essential industry as deemed by the federal and state government. That means those providing animal care, including veterinary services, and those in food manufacturing, such as packing plants, should continue their work to provide food to the country.

Manure management: If your stocking density at a permitted site has increased, update your manure management plan (MMP) to reflect that. If this leads to a situation where manure must be emptied at an unscheduled time, contact your regional DNR office to find solutions and stay in compliance.

Remember, manure application should never cause water pollution.

Trucking: If you are hauling pigs or feed to a state that has either partial or full shelter-in-place orders, you or your employees should carry a letter—developed by the National Pork Producers Council—in your cabs indicating that you are an Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker. Download a Microsoft Word or PDF version of the form.

Some trucking rules on Hours of Service and weight limits have been temporarily suspended for commercial motor carriers. These exemptions help ensure the delivery of livestock to packing plants and farms, as well as the delivery of feed.

Inspections of meat processors: USDA’s FSIS, APHIS and AMS are using their authority to make sure that grading and inspection personnel are available at meat processing plants. Field personnel are working closely with packing companies and state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise.

Guidance for worker issues

IPPA is part of a livestock group having weekly calls with IDALS Secretary Mike Naig. The calls focus on sharing guidance to the department regarding worker issues, supply issues and other related items.

Regarding the employees of your pork business: the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been recommending that all Iowa businesses cross-train, prioritize critical functions, and think about where they would pull additional staff, if needed. It is most important for the agriculture industry to have flexible leave policies in place and make sure workers understand they need to stay home when they are ill.

What we understand from IDPH concerning sick employees at livestock operations: If someone worked while ill, then tested positive for COVID-19, IDPH will issue voluntary home confinement orders for all employees with whom the sick person had direct face-to-face contact (for more than two minutes within 6 feet of each other). If such a situation occurs and the animal facility is no longer able to provide care for the operation, IDPH should be contacted. An exception may be granted to allow asymptomatic, exposed individuals to work while wearing a mask.

National Pork Producers Council continues to work on economic relief options with Congress, and communicate with USDA on critical issues.

‘Pass the Pork’ keeps pigs in food chain, moves to Phase II

Iowa State University’s Meat Lab will process the pigs donated to Phase II of the Pass the Pork ongoing program, which connects pig farmers to Iowans who are food-insecure. The project started in late April to facilitate pork deliveries to Iowa food banks and pantries working to keep up with protein demands of Iowans who are out of work and in need of assistance.

The program can also help pig farmers who have some animals they need to move out of the barn, or those who showed pigs at fairs and events that changed their status to non-terminal shows.

Emma Lasco at IPPA can help farmers determine if the Pass the Pork program will fit with their needs. Meat lockers interested in participating can call the IPPA at (515) 225-7675.

As of mid-July, the Pass the Pork program had enabled Iowa pig farmers to help bring nearly 200,000 servings of pork to food-insecure Iowas. In nearly three months, 451 pigs were donated and $115,000 was raised for local meat lockers to process 50,000 pounds of pork, which was distributed to all six regional food banks serving Iowa.

Interested in purchasing Iowa pork?




IPPA shares good news, recipes on social media

IPPA is using social media like Facebook and Instagram to share how pig farmers have been helping others in their communities throughout this pandemic: donating personal protective equipment from farms to area health care workers when those supplies were short; sharing heartfelt messages with each other to keep going; and providing pork to Iowans in so many ways.

Since the early days of COVOID-19’s spread in Iowa, IPPA has been using social media, as well, to drive easy pork recipes and cooking information/videos to those who may not regularly cook at home. In addition, with restrictions on restaurants in many states, both IPPA and National Pork Board have been using influencers and our YouTube channels as another avenue to show consumers simple pork meals.

We have also been supplying videos and recipes to Fareway and Hy-Vee, and working with retailers on pork promotions.

IPPA staff splits time between office and home

At IPPA, we are following the business guidance of keeping minimal staff in the office,
while others work remotely.

However, we are always available to you through email or by calling the office at 800-372-7675.

National Pork Board webinars

The Pork Checkoff continues to share current information with producers and partnering with industry leaders.

  • June 9, 2020 – COVID-19: Protecting Your Employees and Responding to a COVID-19 Case on Your Farm


  • June 2, 2020 – COVID-19: Retail and Consumer Insights for Pork Producers


  • May 20, 2020 – COVID-19: Market Outlook and Financial Resources


  • May 12, 2020 – COVID-19: Supply Chain Operations Update and Composting Resources


  • May 5, 2020 – COVID-19: Tools for Managing the Current Situation


  • April 28, 2020 – COVID-19: Animal Welfare Tools for Pork Producers


  • April 26, 2020 – Pork Producer Webinar: Planning for Emergency Depopulation and Disposal


  • April 21, 2020 – COVID-19: Supply Chain Insights


  • April 14, 2020 – COVID-19: Financial Resources, Current Public Health Situation and Biosecurity Tips


  • April 7, 2020 – COVID-19: Impact on Agriculture Markets and Changing Consumer Behavior


  • March 24, 2020 – Impact on International and Domestic Markets


  • March 17, 2020 – COVID-19. Provides good background about COVID-19 and related issues to pig production. Dr. Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff, explained what we know and current control measures. The National Pork Producers Council also had staff on the line to share how they are working on related issues.

Related websites to learn more:

National Pork Board efforts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State of Iowa comprehensive COVID-19 information

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s COVID-19 site

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 webpage