The National Pork Producers Council is urging the USDA to help the U.S. pork industry deal with the negative effects of what initially was misnamed “swine” influenza but is now known as the H1N1 flu or Influenza A.
Pork producers, who already were losing money prior to the announcement of the current flu “outbreak,” have seen losses accelerate to an average of $17.69 on each hog marketed as of May 1. Total losses reached $7.2 million per day between April 24 and May 1.
“Given those losses and based on May 1 futures prices, a bad situation for pork producers has been exacerbated and could get worse unless the industry gets some relief.” said Don Butler, NPPC president.
To help stem the losses U.S. pork producers are incurring, NPPC has asked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to:
Implement a USDA purchase program for $50 million of pork products to help boost cash hog prices. Products can be put into federal emergency food programs, food pantries, senior/elderly feeding programs, hunger programs and other non-commercial food channels.
Urge President Obama to work with U.S. trading partners to remove all restrictions on exports of U.S. pork and pork products and to maintain U.S. pork export markets around the world.
Develop a comprehensive surveillance program for swine diseases, which will provide an early warning for emerging diseases that affect human and animal health. Mandatory premises and animal identification would be necessary for an effective surveillance program.
Work to keep open the border between the United States and Canada – in the wake of a report that pigs on a Canadian pork operation contracted from a worker the H1N1 flu – to allow hog movements.
NPPC told Vilsack it would identify and bring to his attention other actions USDA could take to assist the U.S. pork industry during the current situation.