Thursday, April 10, 2014

USDA's emergency assistance program lacks funds to cover loss of pigs due to spreading virus

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program in the new Farm Bill doesn't have enough funds to compensate hog farmers who lost pigs due to porcine epidemic diarrhea, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the North American Agricultural Journalists, meeting in Washington this week.

Available funds in the Department of Agriculture program are capped at $20 million per fiscal year, which isn't enough to cover the millions of piglets killed by the disease, which some suspect is caused by feed ingredients, reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. Vilsack said, “If you were to suggest that that’s a source of compensation, it would have to be 10 times that size to deal with the losses that have occurred.”

Vilsack "says it would be up to Congress to approve disaster assistance for pork producers," something Senate Agriculture Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the biggest hog-producing state, said would be a tough sell on Capitol Hill, Agri-Pulse reports. "David Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said NPPC has asked USDA to use ELAP funds to compensate hog producers who have suffered PEDv losses. To qualify, a producer’s adjusted gross income needs to be less than $900,000, so the program would benefit mostly 'smaller' farmers, Warner said." Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but a free trial is available by clicking here. (USDA graphic: The department's most recent update of reported PEDv cases)

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