Home » Lifestyle » Healthy pigs being killed as meatpacking backlog hits farms
Healthy pigs being killed as meatpacking backlog hits farms
Meat shortage risk climbs
Coronavirus outbreaks are causing plants to close nationwide, FOX Business’ Jackie DeAngelis reports.
Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Continue Reading Below
After spending two decades raising pigs to send to slaughterhouses, Dean Meyer now faces the mentally draining, physically difficult task of killing them even before they leave his northwest Iowa farm.
Meyer said he and other farmers across the Midwest have been devastated by the prospect of euthanizing hundreds of thousands of hogs after the temporary closure of giant pork production plants due to the coronavirus.
The unprecedented dilemma for the U.S. pork industry has forced farmers to figure out how to kill healthy hogs and dispose of carcasses weighing up to 300 pounds in landfills, or by composting them on farms for fertilizer.
Meyer, who has already killed baby pigs to reduce his herd size, said it’s awful but necessary.
TRUMP ORDERS MEAT PROCESSING PLANTS TO STAY OPEN AS CORONAVIRUS RAVAGES SUPPLY
“Believe me, we’re double-stocking barns. We’re putting pigs in pens that we never had pigs in before just trying to hold them. We’re feeding them diets that have low energy just to try to stall their growth and just to maintain,” said Meyer, who also grows corn and soybeans on his family’s farm near Rock Rapids.
It’s all a result of colliding forces as plants that normally process up to 20,000 hogs a day are closing because of ill workers, leaving few options for farmers raising millions of hogs. Experts describe the pork industry as similar to an escalator that efficiently supplies the nation with food only as long as it never stops.
More than 60,000 farmers normally send about 115 million pigs a year to slaughter in the United States. A little less than a quarter of those hogs are raised in Iowa, which is by far the biggest pork-producing state.