Tyson Foods is warning that the alarming number of meat processing plant closures related to the coronavirus pandemic could soon endanger the nation’s meat supply and put farmers in an even tougher position.
Company board chairman John Tyson warned in full-page ads taken out Sunday in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “The food supply chain is breaking.”
“Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation,” he added.
Citing the closures of many of its meat processing facilities, Tyson wrote that farmers could soon have nowhere to sell livestock, and that “millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities.”
“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” he added.
“In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue,” Tyson wrote.
Tyson called for a coordinated effort from the private sector and government to avert a crisis, and said that the company’s supply of products is “vulnerable.”
“The government bodies at the national, state and county levels must unite in a comprehensive way to allow our team members to work in safety without fear, panic or worry,” he wrote.
“The private and public sectors must come together,” Tyson stated.
The warning from Tyson is the latest from the nation’s meat industry cautioning of forthcoming supply issues.
Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, one of America’s largest pork suppliers, warned last week that similar closures could lead to a shortage of meat at grocery stores.
Smithfield Foods has closed plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin, Martin City, Missouri and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“Without these raw materials, the facility cannot continue to run. Smithfield will resume operations in Sioux Falls once it receives further direction from local, state and federal officials. This will also allow the company to bring its Martin City facility back online,” the company said in a news release.
“The closure of our Martin City plant is part of the domino effect underway in our industry,” Smithfield Foods president and CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan said.
“It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain.”
Food processor JBS announced the temporary closure of a beef production facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on April 26.
“The facility employs more than 1,200 people and feeds nearly 3.2 million Americans every day. In partnership and consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Brown County Health and Human Services Department – Public Health Division, the company will advise its Green Bay team members to follow Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ ‘Safer at Home Order’ while the plant is closed,” JBS wrote in a news release.
“The Green Bay beef facility is the fourth JBS USA plant to temporarily close to help slow community spread, joining the Souderton, Pa., beef production facility and the Greeley, Colo., beef production facility, both of which have reopened, and the Worthington, Minn., pork facility that remains closed,” the release said.
Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. announced Monday it will have to euthanize 2 million chickens in Delaware and Maryland, citing a labor shortage at chicken processing plants.
“If no action were taken, the birds would outgrow the capacity of the chicken house to hold them,” the company said, according to CNN.
Delmarva made the “difficult but necessary” decision after studying other alternatives, “including allowing another chicken company to transport and process the chickens and taking a partially processed product to rendering facilities to utilize for other animal feed.”
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