In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence – the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force – Governor Kim Reynolds, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley along with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig are asking for additional support from the administration for the state’s pork producers.
The Iowa leaders write in part: “While the announcement by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that they are standing up an incident command is helpful and the Interim Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides useful steps for protecting workers, we urgently request the additional following resources and authorities, including invoking the Defense Production Act, that will be required to keep Iowa pork production viable:
Packing plant operations: …Worker safety is paramount, and the packing industry is doing everything it can to ensure it and follow local, state and federal recommendations. We urge you to utilize every authority available to keep plants open, and to re-open closed facilities as soon as it is possible to do so safely.
Humane euthanasia of hogs: We ask that resources, including and in addition to those announced by APHIS, be deployed to assist in the humane euthanasia of animals. Resources are critically needed both on farm and in harvest facilities not currently producing food to safely, humanely and efficiently depopulate animals.
Indemnity: …We strongly urge that farmers are indemnified for their euthanized hogs, including costs associated with depopulation and environmentally sound disposal, to help preserve Iowa’s pork industry. Pork producers also need protection through legal immunity from attempts by activist organizations to penalize producers who are required to take these actions to protect the welfare of their animals.
Mental health assistance: …Mental health assistance is important to all affected, but producers who must euthanize animals cannot be forgotten. Providing mental health assistance to farmers, veterinarians and others involved in the difficult decisions and processes around euthanizing and disposing of animals is imperative.