USDA to compensate for forced euthanization

June 17, 2021

In a week that saw multiple announcements of aid to farms and food-insecure families, the USDA announced it will make payments to “livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic (March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020).”

Many egg farms were forced to euthanize birds when food service demand collapsed in the early weeks of the pandemic. Although eggs and egg products have been eligible for price-related assistance in earlier rounds of COVID-19 relief, this is the first time a program has been directly linked to early disposal of animals.

The assistance is part of a larger package of aid to farms and ranches. For some programs, USDA has specified the amount of money to be spent, but the department did not do so for the forced-euthanization program. The aid is “planned for implementation within 60 days,” according to USDA. No further details were immediately available. The agency may need to issue regulations that would establish eligibility for the assistance. Such regulations would probably be made final immediately under emergency authority.

Earlier, USDA announced two additional significant assistance packages:

  • $4 billion to “strengthen critical supply chains.” This aid will include “grants, training and technical assistance” to producers, as well as “investments in regional processing capacity,” but few details were provided.
  • $1 billion in assistance primarily to food banks, including $500 million in commodity purchases through The Emergency Food Assistance Program