USDA says it will help producers on depopulation if needed


As many meat processing plants shut down around the country, the USDA has established a National Incident Coordination Center to directly support producers whose animals cannot be sent to market.

“Going forward, APHIS’ Coordination Center, State Veterinarians, and other state officials will be assisting to help identify potential alternative markets if a producer is unable to move animals, and if necessary, advise and assist on depopulation and disposal methods,” the USDA website states.

On Sunday, Tyson Foods Chairman John Tyson wrote in a full-page ad that the food supply was in danger and farmers may be left with no choice but to depopulate.

The National Pork Board acknowledged this possibility over the weekend by hosting a webinar on emergency depopulation, however, the organization’s director of swine health Dr. Lisa Becton emphasized this was only a last resort.

“No producer wants to have to consider euthanizing their animals because they’ve raised them, reared them. Their farms (and) their families are involved. So this is an absolute last alternative that they’re facing at this time,” she said in an interview with Brownfield Ag News. “The procedures and things that we have to do when we assess all of our farms and the current situation, is not because we want to. It’s because we’re pushed into dire circumstances, and we all want to do what’s best for our people, our workers, and our pigs.”

In addition to its coordination center, the USDA said it would also deploy resources as needed from the National Veterinary Stockpile, which includes supplies for culling animals.