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Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock

Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock
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Several bipartisan senators are calling on Congress to provide additional funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help pork producers forced to depopulate livestock while restaurants, schools and other venues are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The senators said that pork producers normally send 2 million pigs to market a week but, with 20 percent of the market closed due to stay-at-home orders, around 400,000 animals per week must be disposed of in some manner other than processing.

“Given these significant social and economic consequences, we must prioritize funding in the next coronavirus response package to include indemnifying producers who are depopulating herds due to processing plant closures. Assistance is needed for humane euthanization and disposal which will require the coordination of the human, animal, and environmental health communities,” Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role MORE (R-Iowa), Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate rejects Cruz effort to block stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants MORE (D-Ill.), and others wrote to congressional leadership on Monday.

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The senators also noted that processing plants are closing due to coronavirus outbreaks, curtailing production of products, and won’t reopen until companies improve safety measures. Smithfield, the world’s biggest pork processor, closed a South Dakota plant that accounts for up to 5 percent of the U.S. pork production, for over two weeks. It has since reopened.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions MORE last week predicted that U.S. meatpacking plants will fully reopen in the next seven to 10 days, following President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE’s executive order requiring processing plants to stay open.

“The downstream impact of idled plants is full farms, creating an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding and the challenge of providing enough feed and water available to each animal,” the senators wrote. 

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