COVID-19 delays hit meat industry hard
By AUSTIN ELLIS (LCTV)
The effects of COVID-19 have been felt in several industries. There has been rising concerns over the impacts on the meat industry, especially pork production. According to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the U.S. and the top state for pork exports.
Director of Communications of Iowa Pork Producers Association, Dal Grooms, gave an update on delays being experienced. “Iowa pig farmers have been experiencing delays for the past four weeks in delivering their market-ready hogs to processing plants in the Midwest because many plants either slowed production or went into temporary shutdowns”. There are more effects than delays, however.
Grooms also spoke about the disruption of the food system. There are other options that farmers have been considering to decrease these delays. Grooms said, “The options that farmers began considering included holding pigs for a while by changing their feed rations so the pigs wouldn’t grow as fast.”
Grooms went on to add that “They also began increasing the number of pigs in a pen, but they couldn’t push that too high because it would reduce the quality of animal care”. A last resort that farmers have taken to is to use euthanasia for the pigs that won’t make it into the food supply.
On this issue, Grooms said, “This is a gut-wrenching decision and action. The life work of pig farmers is to grow pigs that provide a high quality and safe protein for consumers.” Farmers have been trying several different methods to combat the delays that COVID-19 have had on the industry.
These delays affect the availability of meat products in store. An employee at Edgewood Locker, Terry Kerns, commented on the changes they’ve experienced. On product availability, Kerns commented, “It is making it hit and miss on many items”.
The cost of buying meat products has also risen. “Many items are double the cost of what they were a few weeks back,” explained Kerns. The lull in product availability has resulted in higher prices to receive products for meat lockers and processors.
Edgewood Locker announced on their website that they’re currently booked solid with custom processing for beef and hogs until late January of 2021.
COVID-19 has had a domino effect on the entire meat industry. From the farms, to the processors, and to the grocery stores, the effects are being felt.