WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, led a letter to the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) highlighting the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the U.S. chicken industry and requesting direct assistance for chicken growers and continued support for processing facilities.

“When USDA allocates $16 billion in direct assistance for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19, we’re strongly requesting that chicken farmers be included,” said Senator Coons. “As chicken processing facilities in Delaware and across the country have reduced production, chicken growers have been forced to depopulate millions of healthy birds. These growers need assistance to overcome unprecedented disruptions in demand and processing facilities require resources in order to continue feeding our nation and providing the safest possible working conditions for their employees.”

“As representatives of states with substantial chicken operations, we strongly request that USDA provide direct assistance for chicken farmers impacted by COVID-19 and continue to provide support for chicken processing facilities,” wrote the senators.

A bipartisan group of 16 senators joined Coons and Wicker in signing the letter, including Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Perdue:

Thank you for your commitment to supporting American farmers and our agricultural economy throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As you are well aware, COVID-19 is severely disrupting meat production operations essential to our country’s food supply, including chicken farming and processing. On April 17, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will provide $16 billion in direct financial assistance to agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19. As representatives of states with substantial chicken operations, we strongly request that USDA provide direct assistance for chicken farmers impacted by COVID-19 and continue to provide support for chicken processing facilities. 

The U.S. chicken industry provides an essential service in feeding Americans, who on average consume about 100 pounds of chicken meat each year. As you know, chicken processing facilities across the country have been forced to reduce or suspend production as a result of workforce shortages caused by COVID-19. We appreciate USDA’s efforts to comply with President Trump’s executive order and work with processing facilities, local officials, and other federal agencies to keep these facilities operating and provide employees with the safest working conditions possible. As these facilities continue to experience challenges due to COVID-19, we ask that you continue to provide support to the fullest extent possible. 

The challenges faced by chicken processing facilities impact the entire supply chain, including the independent family farmers in our states who raise chickens. Chicken farmers across the country have been forced to depopulate millions of healthy birds in response to substantial reductions in processing capacity. As these farmers cope with changing and uncertain demand, we believe it is essential that they be provided with direct financial assistance. 

The impacts of COVID-19 on the chicken industry are becoming more serious and visible as the disease continues to spread throughout the United States. As an industry essential to American food security, we urge you to provide necessary support for chicken farmers and processing facilities.

Thank you for your attention to this request. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like more information or have any questions.

Sincerely,

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