WASHINGTON – US Representative Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that packer-owned hogs may be jumping the queue to meat packing plants ahead of hogs owned by independent pork producers.
“Packing-plant closures and disruptions have reduced production and created a backlog of market-ready hogs,” Hagedorn said in the letter. “This is expected to force the euthanization of up to 10 million animals, with the meat not processed and delivered to consumers. Making matters worse, it has come to my attention that packing plants may be engaging in discriminatory actions against independent family farmers by prioritizing the processing of packer-owned hogs.”
Citing US Department of Agriculture Mandatory Price Reporting data, Hagedorn said that from Jan. 10 to May 8, packer owned hogs sold into the market increased 7.4% while producer hogs sold during the same period dropped 8.8%. He said that while the drop in hog processing capacity reflected several factors, the “…dramatic and disproportionate” response had unfairly affected independent pork producers.
“Given your position as the secretary of agriculture and the President’s designee under the Defense Production Act, please utilize your authority to ensure proportionate processing of hogs,” Hagedorn said. “While no farmer could have planned for this, it is imperative that we maintain a marketplace free from unfair and undue preference, disadvantage, and deceptive practices to prevent the bankruptcy of our independent producers and retain our American owned farms.”