Despite plants reopening, pork producers still facing challenges


As more than a dozen meat packing plants are scheduled to reopen this week, some hog industry leaders are reminding the public that pork producers are still in a very difficult situation.

For example, 27-year-old Chad Lubben said he has resorted to selling hogs online at a loss of $70 a head. Still, he guesses about half of his 1,600 hogs will need to euthanized.

“It’s a last resort in my opinion, absolute last resort,” he told Progressive Farmer. “It’s a prediction, but I hope I’m wrong. I predict half my pigs will be euthanized.”

Iowa Pork Producers Association President Mike Paustian said that producers are trying to do everything they can to get animals into the food supply, however that remains difficult.

“One of the things I’m concerned about is that people hear the plants are reopening and OK, things are back to normal,” he said. “It’s going to be a long time before all of this gets sorted out on the farm.”

However, the industry is still far from normal. The National Pork Board continues to hold webinars about safely depopulating and disposing of hogs and USDA officials have told the Pork Board to have farmers track everything happening on their farms, according to Progressive Farmer.

“We’re still sitting on this backlog of hogs and that is going to be the real issue moving forward, I think, is how quickly these plants are able to ramp back up and then how methodically we can work through this backlog,” Paustain said. “That’s what’s going to end up putting producers in a tough spot and it’s going to be fortunate because we will be moving in the right direction, but we have this accumulated log jam here.”