What You Need to Know (revised May 26)
E-newsletter updates on COVID-19 for IPPA members
- May 26, 2020 – Governor, IDALS Launching Disposal Assistance Program
- May 22, 2020 – Begin CFAP Applications Tuesday, May 26
- May 15, 2020 – Resilience in Difficult Situations
- May 8, 2020 – Composting Toolbox Available
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.
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)
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.
Assistance available for animal disposal
Iowa Disposal Assistance Program: The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) has begun a disposal assistance program for pork producers who are euthanizing market-ready hogs.
IDALS is taking applications for three rounds of funding. You must apply again during each round to qualify for more funding. ROUND 1 UPDATE: Producers now have until June 15 to submit claims and proof documents.
Dollars for the program come from Iowa’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money provided by the federal government in March.
Key points about the Iowa Disposal Assistance Program:
- IDALS is offering $40 per approved animal to help cover disposal costs
- Market-ready pigs are those that are 225 lbs. or heavier
- Documentation required includes an electronic W9, affidavit from herd veterinarian, and proof of proper disposal
- There will be three rounds of funding assistance
- Approved applicants are guaranteed funding for up to 1,000 animals; larger numbers may be covered, depending on the number of applicants
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Animal Mortality program resources:
- Emergency Livestock Mortality funding overview (what options are available, how to apply, eligibility)
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) fillable CCC-1200 (application form)
- Early Start Waiver — This allows producers to begin disposal of deceased livestock before having an approved EQIP contract. However, as of now, funds are limited with no assurance of getting more. Not all producers will get funded.
- Iowa Swine Mortality Certification 2020 (form for veterinarian/animal health professional signoff)
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
For the second time this year, radical activists have trespassed onto a farm and gone into a building. This time, they installed cameras to record euthanasia activity. It is important that you ensure your building security to keep outsiders out. The Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers has a tip sheet on the topic.
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.
- Approaches to Reducing Feed Intake and Growth Rate in Market Hogs during Interruption of Animal Movement
- Ongoing Research Project Assessing the Effectiveness of Different Diets to Reduce Market Hog Growth
- Economic Considerations for Reducing Growth Rates and Feed Intake In Finishing Pigs
- Frequently asked questions from Part 1.
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
The Pass the Pork program announced by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig connects pig farmers to Iowans who are food-insecure. IPPA is working on the program by finding outlets to lessen the strain on full buildings. Producers can donate pigs that will be processed by local lockers, with pork being delivered to food banks and pantries. Meat lockers interested in participating can call the IPPA at (515) 225-7675.
Iowans are also being engaged, with the Food Bank Association of Iowa asking for support of the program with funds to pay for the processing and transportation of the pork to food banks and pantries.
As of May 19, a total of 364 pigs had been donated by 12 producers/farms, with more donations pending. Six lockers and/or processing plants had participated in the effort to get 8,330 pounds of pork into the food bank system. So far, ground pork from the Pass the Pork program has been distributed to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines and the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo. About $130,000 had been contributed by businesses and individuals.
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
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.
- 1:30 p.m. CDT June 2, 2020 (pre-register) – COVID-19: Retail and Consumer Insights for Pork Producers. Speakers include: Anthony Monaco, director of purchasing for C&S Wholesale Grocers, a national retail distributor to independent grocers; and Tara Dugan, director of research and insights for the National Pork Board. Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board, and a representative with the National Pork Producers Council, will also make comments.
- 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