WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the spot market sale eligibility requirements and hog eligibility for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP).

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) said it would accept applications through April 29, 2022. The SMHPP would apply to any spot market sale from April 16 through Sept. 1, 2020. 

Hog producers will also need to submit documentation to support their application. 

“Since opening signup for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program, we have heard from stakeholders and interested parties who have expressed concern and confusion about eligibility criteria, particularly as they related to the definition of a spot market sale and the definition of an eligible hog,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. 

The USDA added that it is offering SMHPP in response to the reduction in packing production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in fewer negotiated hogs procured and lower market prices.

SMHPP 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, according to the agency. 

“We have clarified the intent and scope of this program to target assistance to hog producers who were hard-hit by the pandemic but have not been included in other forms of assistance,” Ducheneaux said. “In updating the SMHPP, we are working to provide new, broader, and more equitable opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers.” 

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) announced its support for the changes to SMHPP and how it will help its members. 

“The changes to SMHPP are certainly welcome and producers thank FSA for its commitment to clarifying the parameters of the program,” said NPPC President Terry Wolters. “Producers forced into spot market sales have been excluded from many of the previous recovery programs, and these modifications will hopefully lead to these funds making it into the right hands.”

NPPC added that SMHPP was set to make $50 million in funds available to producers but there was confusion on eligible hogs that paused the program in December 2021. 

The assistance is part of the USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. A similar program was available for the meat industry in November 2021