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FSA increases funding for hog pandemic payments
By Doug Schmitz
Iowa Correspondent

PIPESTONE, Minn. – The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced July 26 it has increased available funding under the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program, and has started issuing payments of an estimated $62.8 million to U.S. hog producers.
The program assists eligible producers who sold hogs through a spot market sale from April 16 through Sept. 1, 2020.
“We appreciate Farm Service Agency’s commitment to providing assistance to those pork producers hit hard by the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic,” said Terry Wolters, National Pork Producers Council president and owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone.
“Producers forced into spot market hog sales are still challenged by the market disruptions of COVID-19, and these funds will contribute to the ongoing recovery of the U.S. pork industry,” he added.
Zach Ducheneaux, Farm Service Agency administrator, said, “In order to provide more targeted support to hog producers affected by the pandemic, Farm Service Agency was able to increase funding for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program to provide full payments to producers instead of applying a payment factor.
“We are pleased to be able to provide more equitable opportunities for hog producers who were hard-hit by the pandemic,” he added.
Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program payments will be calculated by multiplying the number of head of eligible hogs, not to exceed 10,000 head, by the payment rate of $54 per head.
Farm Service Agency said it originally planned to apply a payment factor if calculated payments exceeded the allocated $50 million in pandemic assistance funds for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program.
“Payments are not expected to be factored due to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s decision to increase funding enabling producers to receive 100 percent of the calculated the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program payment,” Farm Service Agency said in a statement. “There is no per person or legal entity payment limitation on Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program payments.”
The USDA offered the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program in response to a reduction in packer production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in fewer negotiated hogs being procured, and subsequent lower market prices.
The program is part of the USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, and addresses gaps in previous assistance for hog producers.
Last November, the USDA created a separate program that offered $270 million to contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry who applied for pandemic assistance.
Earlier last year, Farm Service Agency identified gaps in assistance including in the initial proposal to assist contract growers.
“We listened to feedback from producers and stakeholders about impacts across livestock and poultry operations, and made updates to be more equitable,” Ducheneaux said.