By Sen. Mark Costello

Throughout this pandemic, one of the things the governor has been working hard to do is to find a balance between protecting Iowans and keeping as much of our state working as possible.

Meat production facilities, especially Iowa meat production facilities, are an essential part of the food supply chain as we work to provide affordable food all across the world. Shutting down these plants has a major impact that is not limited just to farmers – it affects everyone. If the plants cannot run, livestock cannot be processed and Iowa farmers could be forced into euthanizing some of their livestock. This reduces the supply of food and increases prices in the coming months, making it even more difficult for people to afford food.

Affordable food is more important now than ever in this uncertain economy, especially for lower-income families in our state and in our country. While the state works to limit the closures of these facilities, it is also important to ensure the safety of the workers there and do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate the work of our public health officials, who have been working hard to test impacted workers and ensure they can get the care they need.

Because of these disruptions, a new program was announced recently to help connect hog farmers in Iowa to families in need of food in our state. This program, called “Pass the Pork”, was created by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). It will help farmers donate pigs to Iowa food banks and food pantries. There are costs associated with processing, storage and delivery, and if you’d like to help, please visit donorbox.org/passthepork.

Additionally, a website and hotline have also been created to help give Iowa’s livestock farmers information and resources if they are facing a decision on disposing of their animals. Farmers can contact the hotline by calling 515-725-1005 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, or visit iowafarmerhelp.com.

We will learn more about our budget in the coming weeks, as well as when we will be able to get back to the capitol to finish the legislative session and continue our work to make Iowa the best state to work, live and raise a family.

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