As the coronavirus crisis continues, the U.S. pork industry is facing $5 billion in losses for the rest of 2020.
According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), restaurants closing down due to the pandemic has caused prices in the industry to fall. It has also lost buyers in international markets.
The industry has lost workers and slaughterhouses have been forced to shut.
‘Hogs Are Backing up on Farms’
Smithfield Foods Inc’s Sioux Falls pork processing plant—one of the largest facilities of this nature in the country—closed down earlier this month following an outbreak of coronavirus.
More than 700 cases have been confirmed among the plant’s workers; it is now the single-biggest source of coronavirus cases in the U.S.
The new epicenter of the pandemic, the U.S. currently has more than 678,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus; more than 34,000 people have died and more than 57,000 have recovered.
The NPPC notes that as a result of the crisis, hog farmers will lose around $37 per animal marketed this year—around $5 billion collectively. The council’s president Howard Roth stated that farmers may have to start euthanizing their baby pigs if the government does not intervene.
It’s asking the government to purchase $1 billion of the backed-up meat supply.
Roth said in a statement: “hogs are backing up on farms with nowhere to go, leaving farmers with tragic choices to make. Dairy producers can dump milk. Fruit and vegetable growers can dump produce. Hog farmers have nowhere to move their hogs.”
Shutting Down Meat Production
A number of other major meat companies, including Tyson Foods, Cargill, National Beef Packing Co, Empire Kosher Poultry Inc., and JBS, have also shut down meat processing plants as a direct result of the pandemic.
Kim C. Cordova—president of Local 7 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, a labor union representing more than one million workers, including JBS meatpackers—stated that while she understood the economic impact is serious, worker safety has to take priority.
She told Bloomberg: “you cannot make sacrifices like this with people’s lives. People can live without beef.”