The executive warning came days after Tyson shutdown of its large pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after several employees tested positive for COVID-19.
theinvolving large companies, with a Smithfield Foods pork plant in South Dakota also out of service. JBS USA temporarily closed its meat packing plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Sunday after health officials traced at least 189 positive cases at the facility last week.
As of April 27, at least 4,135 positive cases related to meat packaging facilities have been reported in 75 factories in 25 states and at least 18 worker deaths reported in nine factories in nine states, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
About a quarter of pork production in the United States and 10% of its beef production have been closed, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers, the union that represents 250,000 workers in meat and poultry packaging.
“As pork, beef and chicken factories are forced to close, even for short periods, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” President Tyson wrote in a letter published Sunday under form of newspaper ad, including the New York Times. “As a result, the supply of our products in grocery stores will be limited until we can reopen our facilities which are currently closed. “
Food waste is also part of the equation, according to Arkansas-based Tyson, one of the country’s largest meat producers. “Farmers across the country simply will have nowhere to sell their cattle for processing when they could have fed the country,” the executive wrote.
“Millions of animals – chickens, pigs and cattle – will be depopulated due to the closure of our processing facilities,” he added. “The food supply chain is broken. “
The word “depopulated” – meaning humanly killed – is already in play on several large farms in Delaware and Maryland, where two million chickens will be depopulated due to the drop in the number of employees of factories neighboring Delmarva Poultry Industry, a said a local poultry trade group in a statement.
With approximately 1,800 members in Delaware and on the east coast of Maryland and Virginia, the Delmarva chicken industry produced more than 600 million chicken stocks last year for about $ 3.5 billion.