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Livestock Slaughter Rates Decrease as Meat Industry Prepares to Reopen

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raw meat in packaging department | Livestock Slaughter Rates Decrease as Meat Industry Prepares to Reopen | Featured

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused the meat industry to struggle to return to normal. This comes after around 3% of employees at infected meat and poultry processing plants contracted the coronavirus. This subsequently causes shoppers to face limitations on how much meat they can buy at the supermarket.

Producers such as Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, and Cargill had to shutter their plants last month. They decided to do so after workers contracted the coronavirus. Facilities such as Tyson Foods pork plant in Logansport, Ind. will now begin to restart this week.

However, there have been decreasing livestock slaughter rates. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cattle slaughter fell 37% last week compared to the same period last year.

“Should they have done this five weeks ago? Eight weeks ago? Yes, but the reality is we are where we’re at right now,” said food supply chain expert Howard Dorman of accounting and consulting firm Mazars USA.

The Pandemic and the Meat Industry

In a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 1st, “COVID-19 cases among U.S. workers in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities were reported by 19 states. Among approximately 130,000 workers at these facilities, 4,913 cases and 20 deaths occurred.”

“By April 27, CDC had received aggregate data on COVID-19 cases from 19 of 23 states reporting at least one case related to this industry,” said the report.

“While the [Logansport] facility was idled, we added more workstation barriers, installed more hand sanitizer dispensers, and did additional deep cleaning and sanitation,” said Tyson senior vice president of pork Todd Neff. “We’re also now screening employees for additional symptoms and designating monitors to help enforce social distancing,” Neff said. They’re doing so “while following the CDC and OSHA’s guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers.”

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