Rounds joins bipartisan, bicameral group to urge support for nation’s pork industry

Following the recent closure of the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., due to a COVID-19 outbreak, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and a bipartisan, bicameral contingent of congressional lawmakers requested federal assistance for the nation’s pork producers toward protecting the pork food supply chain.

“This plant provides approximately 130 million servings of pork per week, and we are concerned about the impact this closure will have not only on the plant employees, but also on the more than 500 independent family farms who supply the plant,” Sen. Rounds and his colleagues wrote in a letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Smithfield also recently announced the closure of its plant in Martin City, Mo., which receives raw materials from the Sioux Falls plant, according to their letter.

“We hope this component of the supply chain is restored quickly,” wrote Sen. Rounds and the lawmakers. “However, in the event that producers are unable to schedule harvest of their hogs, we request that you consider how to use your existing authorities and available funds to compensate producers for losses.”

They also requested that if needed, the Natural Resource Conservation Service consider how to provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for affected producers.

“It is critically important that we maintain our pork supply chain to ensure that consumers continue to have access to high-quality pork products in grocery stores and supermarkets throughout the country, especially during the COVID-19 crisis,” the members wrote.

Among those joining Sen. Rounds in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), as well as U.S. Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Sam Graves (R-MO), Billy Long (R-MO), Pete Stauber (R-MN), and Collin Peterson (D-MN).