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NRCS Response to 2020 Agricultural Production Limitations as a Result COVID-19

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100662.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100662)
Authors:   William R Reck, Jeffrey Porter
Keywords:   COVID, Production, Animal Mortality

Abstract. In the spring and early summer of 2020, many agricultural production facilities were forced to reduce processing rates of agricultural commodities. Milk production plants were unable to quickly change milk packaging from ½ pint milk cartons destined for school lunches to larger containers for grocery stores as the nation‘s schools switched to virtual learning. Bulk commodities destined for restaurants needed to be repackaged as restaurants were closed due to the pandemic. Meat processing plants had to reduce production rates as COVID-19 outbreaks among their employees slowed production lines and increased the required time for sanitation of facilities to take place. These processing reductions led to commodity stockpiles in excess of what could be processed before spoilage. Milk needed to be land spread as a waste product, swine and poultry needed to be depopulated and disposed of since continued feeding was not feasible, and other specialty crops needed to be disposed of when storage capacity limits were reached. NRCS took steps to provide producers with technical and financial help to address the proper disposal of depopulated animals. This paper will detail the steps taken by NRCS to address this issue to protect natural resources on the farm and the environment.

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