SDSU helping pork producers by processing pigs

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 2:51 PM CDT
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Several groups within South Dakota State University are working to help swine producers under pressure due to COVID-19.

SDSU Extension swine specialists and meat science faculty, staff and students from the Department of Animal Science is working with the South Dakota Pork Producers Council to harvest animals at the university's meat lab.

University officials say the goal is to process 90 pigs per week through August 14.

Many producers are having trouble finding places to process their livestock after COVID-19 outbreaks shuttered many meat packing facilities in the area, including Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls. While those facilities are beginning to reopen, many are not yet at full capacity yet.

“South Dakota pork producers are very concerned about the shortage of protein in the retail meat counters while they are struggling and unable to find a market for the animals they are raising due to limited packer capacity,” said Glenn Muller, executive director of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. “This event allows our local producers to give back to communities and directly to consumers in need during these unusual times.

The Pork Producers Council is working to connect processors and producers as the project moves forward. Processors will purchase pigs from producers and the producers will deliver the pigs to SDSU for slaughter. The processor who owns the pigs will then pick-up the carcasses and pay SDSU for the slaughter costs.

On May 22, the South Dakota Pork Producers Council gave away 13,000 pounds of pork in Aberdeen. The pork had been donated by pork producers in the state. A second giveaway is tentatively scheduled for June 30 in Yankton.

SDSU Extension specialists are also providing guidance to producers facing processing shutdowns and consumers looking to purchase and process hogs at home.