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Minnesota company gets most coronavirus aid in Iowa hog disposal program
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — One influential pork company has received most of the money from an Iowa program designed to support farmers who euthanized their hogs after the coronavirus devastated their industry, newly released data shows.
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Christensen Farms, one of the nation's largest family-owned pork producers, has received $1.86 million from the Iowa Disposal Assistance Program, or 72% of the $2.6 million the program has paid to date.
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The Sleepy Eye, Minnesota-based company received payments for disposing of 46,599 euthanized hogs, six times as many as the second highest claimant. The 15 other companies and farmers who received payments reported euthanizing about 18,000 hogs combined.
Iowa is the nation’s largest pork-producing state, and Christensen Farms has more than half of its operations in the state, including partnerships with nearly 200 farms.
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Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants resulted in worker absenteeism and temporary closures, dramatically slowing production in April and into May. As a result, some farmers said they had no markets to sell their hogs and no space to keep them. Industry officials say they took steps to find new markets and to slow animals’ growth but euthanized them as a last resort — a practice that can use gunshots, bolt guns, electrocution or heat.