WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today joined a bipartisan letter with 13 of her Senate colleagues to congressional leaders seeking additional funding for programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would assist pork producers who are being forced to depopulate livestock herds because of restaurant and meat processing plant closures during the pandemic. Farmers are facing an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding and the challenge of providing enough feed and water available to each animal. There are pigs in various stages of the six month growth process that have nowhere to go.

“The crisis is immediate. Pork producers send to market over two million pigs each week. If twenty percent of processing is idle, that means somewhere around 400,000 animals per week must be disposed of in some manner other than processing. Accordingly, government support is needed in the management of a sensible depopulation of the herd until plant operations stabilize,” the senators wrote.

“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,” the senators continued.

The letter to congressional leaders was signed by Fischer along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

Full text of the letter can be found here.