Pork Producers Threaten to Kill Baby Pigs, Demand $1 Billion Bailout

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is threatening to kill countless baby pigs unless they receive a $1 billion government bailout.

The pandemic has created economic challenges across all industries, but some were less prepared than others. The pork industry, in particular, was unprepared, and pigs are the ones who will suffer.

Slaughterhouses have been a hotbed for COVID-19. Workers must stand shoulder to shoulder, which has spread the illness among them, creating staff shortages and slaughterhouse closures. For example, the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one of the largest pig slaughterhouses in the United States, shut down indefinitely as hundreds of their employees fell ill with COVID-19. More than 700 of them have tested positive, as have more than 120 nonemployees who had contact with workers.


Additionally, restaurant closures and a lull in export markets have caused the price of pork to plummet. The result is factory farms full of pigs and piglets who cost less to kill and discard at the farms than to send to slaughter and sell for meat. Howard Roth, president of the NPPC, told reporters that “absent immediate and significant government intervention,” the number of baby pigs slaughtered and discarded would “soar dramatically.”

The thought of baby pigs being slaughtered is heartbreaking, but the way they will likely die is even worse. Piglets are often killed by “thumping,” or slamming them headfirst into the ground. Undercover investigators with Mercy For Animals have documented this barbaric practice numerous times.

The pork industry appears to be holding baby pigs for ransom as they request that the federal government purchase over $1 billion in backed-up meat.

A similar situation has unfolded in the chicken industry. Ninety workers at a Tyson chicken plant in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, just tested positive for COVID-19. More than a dozen other meat plants across the country have closed their doors because social distancing or taking sanitary measures is too difficult.

Chicken company Allen Harim recently began killing millions of chickens to “reduce pressure” on the remaining workers, who have been forced to continue working, standing shoulder to shoulder to keep up with the company’s high-speed slaughter lines.

As the pandemic continues, other companies are likely to mass slaughter their flocks. Approved methods for mass “depopulation,” outlined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, include agonizing techniques such as suffocating the birds under a layer of foam over a period of up to four and a half minutes. This technique has been used to kill entire populations during avian flu outbreaks.


COVID-19 has shown just how fragile and broken our industrial food system is. Mercy For Animals is urging the USDA and the powerful meat lobby not to use taxpayer dollars—in the form of relief funds—to pay for this cruelty.

Join us in demanding taxpayer money be used for long-term, systematic solutions, like helping farmers transition to plant-based farming—not mass kill chickens and pigs.

  • Calf
  • Chicken
  • Piglet

Stand up. Speak out. Defend animals.

Join our mailing list to learn about action opportunities, Mercy For Animals news, and more!

Count Me In!