WASHINGTON—In a letter sent to Secretary Sonny Perdue today, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig asked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include egg producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

The Iowa leaders wrote in part, “COVID-19 has impacted our Iowa farmers, including our egg producers, whose eggs were destined for the liquid egg market. Because of the massive damage done to this industry as restaurants, schools, and other egg-buying businesses have closed over the past few months, we write today in support of their inclusion into the CFAP to keep these producers afloat until the pandemic abates.”

With nearly 70 percent of Iowa’s layer flocks producing for the liquid egg market, the COVID-19 market disruption has proved to be devastating to Iowa’s egg producers.

“Iowa's farmers have been doing their part to help our state and nation navigate the effort to defeat COVID-19, and our egg producers are no different. Much of our state's egg production supports our commercial food service, and while many restaurants and other facilities have had to close or limit operations throughout this pandemic, our egg industry has seen a drastic drop in demand and as a result some have had to dump product. These hardworking folks need relief and assistance, and that's what we're fighting for and pushing USDA to provide,” said Senator Ernst.

“I’m glad USDA has said payments to farmers will begin under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Market disruptions have negatively impacted almost all operations in Iowa, including egg producers. The liquid egg market saw a 68 percent price decline as sales to restaurants and hotels dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m glad to join Governor Reynolds, Senator Ernst and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Naig in this effort to ensure liquid egg producers are kept afloat until the pandemic ends. We appreciate USDA’s willingness to hear from public comment, and welcome an adjustment to the program to allow egg producers to qualify,” Grassley said.

“As our producers continue doing their part to keep our national food supply chains moving, we must do our part to support their operations,” said Gov. Reynolds in her message to Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We commend USDA for a number of measures the department has taken to facilitate the flow of food to people who need it through the network of food banks and pantries.”

“We are grateful to the Trump administration and USDA for the relief the CFAP has provided to our crop and livestock producers,” said Secretary Naig. “Egg producers should also be included in the program since they have been greatly impacted and play a key role in our food supply and state economy. We must support them throughout these ongoing market disruptions.”

Iowa is home to over 58 million egg-laying hens and about 1 in 6 eggs consumed in the United States each year. As an integral part of the state’s economy, the egg industry is responsible for as much as $2.6 billion in total economic activity, supporting 7,084 jobs and directly employing 2,398 people.

Read the letter in its entirety here.

Last month, following a call with members of the Iowa Poultry Association and the Iowa Egg Council about the unique hardships facing the state’s egg producers, Ernst called on USDA to support egg farmers impacted by COVID-19.

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