COVID-19: An unprecedented situation faces the beef complex
When there is a plant fire, like the one at the Tyson beef plant in Finney County last August, the chances of a fire affecting multiple plants was extremely small. Today, the chances of a pandemic impacting workers in multiple states are actually quite high. A JBS beef plant in Greeley, Colo., has been closed for a week due to dozens of workers there getting sick with COVID-19. Two workers have reportedly died from the disease as well, according to the Daily Livestock Report.
Difficult as the situation is for packers, they are generally well capitalized and can handle being down for a period of time. Similarly, retailers can handle getting shorted product by either raising prices to ration out demand or mixing and matching products that are available. Producers, on the other hand, cannot tell their cattle, hogs or chickens to stop growing until plants open up. There is a flow of animals that moves through the farm and if you stop what goes out the door, the entire system breaks down. This is an extremely difficult time for producers and, like with any natural disaster, immediate support and assistance is needed to assure their survival.
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