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“Let’s pragmatically attack this together”

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Industry leaders, lenders stand in support of pork producers amidst COVID-19 challenges

May 04, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to challenge the U.S. swine market, industry leaders have a message for producers: we’re fighting with you and for you.

“We have people here that are ready, willing and able to help,” National Pork Board CEO Bill Even said this week in a webinar for producers hosted by Farm Credit Mid-America. “Let’s pragmatically attack this together.”

Even was one of several industry leaders and market experts who took part in the webinar to update pork producers from across the country on current issues and perspectives, as well as efforts to alleviate challenges. Even and National Pork Producers Council VP of Resource Development Craig Boelling were joined by Joe Kerns, President of Kerns and Associates, and Dr. Steve Meyer, economist with Kerns & Associates on the webinar.

The panel outlined problems pork producers are familiar with: the bottleneck caused by pork processing facilities that are closed or functioning at reduced capacity, and the excess animal inventory that results on farms. Leaders are working with government officials to stress the importance of safely re-opening plants, and providing relief to producers. Even says the National Pork Board’s primary focus is getting plants at least 80 percent operational in the coming weeks.

The panel also stressed the resources that are available for pork producers, including the Pork Checkoff’s on-farm and labor resources related to COVID-19 and LifeWorks Resource Program. Boelling told webinar participants that advocates are working together to make sure farmers are supported and get the information they need.

“We’re in the trenches with our producers every day,” he said.

Industry expert Meyer also gave producers tips to weather the situation, including:

  • Do everything you can to mitigate the situation, but realize you can’t fix this problem.
  • Work with your team and talk about every aspect of your business and financial situation. Include a counselor or mental health provider to help you through this hard time.
  • Minimize losses where you can: drive costs lower, capture every bit of revenue possible, talk to your marketing advisor about futures options and strategies that will help.

Farm Credit Mid-America urges its customers to reach out to their Financial Officer to discuss solutions to their specific issues and needs. The Association’s financial strength provides flexibility to work alongside customers during this current challenge.

“We know and understand that navigating this present crisis is your top priority,” said Jess Campbell, Farm Credit Mid-America's Vice President of Food and Agribusiness specializing in swine. “That’s why our products and solutions are intended to help you navigate the coming days, weeks and months while keeping your eye focused on long-term impact.”

To further support and give back to communities impacted by COVID-19, Farm Credit Mid-America announced it is providing financial support to the Million Meals and Pork Power programs in Indiana and Ohio. These donations are in addition to a $100,000 donation to more than 25 food banks across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to combat the crisis and support those in need.

To watch the full webinar, go to https://e-farmcredit.com/pork-covid-webinar.

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