Covid-19 infections of workers at U.S. packing plants forced declines in red meat and poultry production during April with beef production hit the hardest, said USDA economists on Monday. Disruptions will be felt for the rest of the year, but meat production in 2021 is forecast to rise nearly 4 percent higher than this year due to recovery in all major types of meat. (No Paywall)
The next coronavirus relief bill should include indemnity money for hog farmers who killed their animals because slaughter plants were shut down due to the coronavirus, said 14 senators in a letter to House and Senate leaders on Monday. The letter did not suggest how much the indemnities would cost.
Although beef and pork slaughter plants ran at less than three-fourths capacity last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, "We think most of our facilities will be back on line" by the end of this week. That would account for as much as 85 percent of U.S. meat-processing capacity. Fourteen beef, pork and poultry plants resumed operation last week, according to the USDA. Other tallies showed a handful of plants still shut down.(No paywall)
Farmers across the nation may be forced to kill 700,000 hogs a week because of coronavirus closures and slowdowns at slaughter plants, said four Iowa leaders in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. Led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the elected officials asked for federal indemnities to help the farmers stay in business.
Up to $7 million will be paid in bonuses to "team members who continue to produce food during the Covid-19 outbreak," said Hormel Foods on Thursday. The money will be paid in July to employees at Hormel's meat and processed food plants and would follow a $4 million bonus paid in April. (No paywall)
FERN staff writer Leah Douglas has created a map of meatpacking and food processing plants where cases of Covid-19 have been reported. As of midday Wednesday, at least 11 meatpacking plants and two processed food plants have closed, and a total of 40 have reported cases of Covid-19. At least 1,950 workers are confirmed sick and at least 11 have died, the story says.(No paywall)
Meatpacker JBS USA said it will close its cattle slaughter plant in Greeley, Colorado, until April 24 while its 6,000 employees self-quarantine in an effort to eradicate a coronavirus outbreak in the community. Two JBS workers have died of Covid-19 and four dozen others have tested positive for the virus.
More than two dozen workers at a Tyson Foods pork plant were stricken with Covid-19, forcing the meatpacker to suspend operations at its mammoth plant in Columbus Junction in southeastern Iowa, the No. 1 hog state. Tyson Foods announced the shut-down on Monday as the coronavirus spread further …
Walmart entered the beef business when it opened a processing plant in Georgia that will cut and prepare steaks and roasts for sale in 500 of its stores in the U.S. Southeast. If the plant is successful, says an analyst, “it could mean Walmart takes another step up the supply chain towards the producer.”
Mindy Brashears, a professor of food safety and food microbiology at Texas Tech, is President Trump's choice for agriculture undersecretary, announced the White House. "Food safety is at the core of USDA's mission because it directly affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans every day," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in describing Brashears as an excellent choice.