SOUTH CHARLOTTE, NC – Closures in meat processing facilities, in response to Covid-19, have reduced processing capabilities by 20% nationwide, according to reports from RFD-TV. Many restaurant owners, and shoppers, find it increasingly difficult to acquire the cuts of meat that they need. Cattleman’s associations across the country have reported that the issue is not the supply of beef, but the ability for struggling plants to process the beef as more families cook at home, increasing demand.
National Cattleman’s Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall told reporters at the Rural Free Delivery Network that President Trump’s executive order to keep meat processing plants open was important, and that a backlog of cattle has begun to accumulate as a result of closures. Woodall also noted that new OSHA and CDC guidelines were essential to the health and safety of plant workers.
Despite nearly 40 million of Americans suffering from hunger, these supply chain disruptions will cause many tons of meat to go to waste, as animals are euthanized instead of being sent to processors. According to John Tyson, chairman of the board of Tyson Foods, “Millions of animals – chickens, pigs, and cattle – will be depopulated.”
Dale Sandlin, executive vice president of the Georgia Cattleman’s Association, told WALB News 10 that supply chain disruptions, and lower meat distributions during the pandemic, are the primary causes for the threat of a beef shortage. The association told WALB that while there may be a reduction in meat processing, there is no shortage of beef production.