Food supply shutdown: US meat processing plants suspend operations, dairy farmers told to quit, farmers dumping produce

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Several meat processing plants around the U.S. are sitting idle this week because workers have been infected with the coronavirus. Tyson Foods, one of the country’s biggest meat processors, says it suspended operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, after more than two dozen workers got sick with COVID-19. National Beef Packing stopped slaughtering cattle at another Iowa plant, and JBS USA shut down work at a beef plant in Pennsylvania.

Most farms and food companies are continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s concern that the coronavirus could spread among workers doing some of the most labor-intensive jobs, including meat processing.

Christine McCracken, a top meat industry analyst with RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, told NPR via email that these plant closings aren’t yet having a significant impact on the overall supply of meat to consumers, but there’s increasing concern in the industry about worker shortages.

“Most processors I work with have seen a significant increase in absenteeism,” McCracken wrote. “Whether that is due to actual COVID-19 issues, childcare issues (with the closure of schools) or even fear of contracting the disease it is unclear. In some cases, the decline in available workers is severe.”

More news on this topic:

Coronavirus: Meat plants are closing as workers get sick
(Via mercurynews, MediaNews Group)
“Tyson, one of the world’s largest meat processors, suspended operations at its Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant this week after more than two dozen workers contracted Covid-19 there.”

Three Meat Plants Shut in Iowa and Pennsylvania as Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads
“Reduced meat output from the shutdowns threatens to tighten supplies of certain products at a time when demand is rising at grocery stores as the country battles COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.”

Some JBS Meat Packing Employees In Greeley Afraid To Go To Work
“Hundreds of workers are staying home each day from their jobs at the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley, after reports of positive tests for coronavirus on some employees.”

More Than 800 Greeley Meat Packing Plant Workers Call Off as Coronavirus is Confirmed Among Employees
“About 500 people called off in the morning and another 400 did not go to work in the evening, said Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.”

Sioux Falls meat-packing plant named COVID-19 ‘cluster’
“Eighty workers in the Smithfield plant have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.”





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