US Close To Meat Shortage As Massive Slaughterhouse Closes Due To COVID-19

by | April 13, 2020

The United States’ biggest supplier of pork is closing a major slaughterhouse indefinitely as a result of COVID-19 — a move which leaves the nation at risk of facing a compromised meat supply.

The Smithfield Foods facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has reportedly been hit by the pandemic, with hundreds of the plant’s 3,700 employees testing positive for the virus. What started as a temporary three-day closure has now been deemed “indefinite.”

Smithfield’s Chief Executive Officer Ken Sullivan says that this, coupled with a number of similar closures around the US, leaves the country’s meat supply at risk.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” he said in a statement. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

eating meat during covid-19
The meat industry is struggling in the face of the deadly virus (Vershinin89/Shutterstock.com)

Eating Animals & COVID-19 

The spread of the virus, facility closures, travel restriction and panic buying have significantly interrupted the animal-based food market.

Decreased demand as a result of closures has left the dairy industry significantly oversupplied, and racking up waste.

Travel restrictions have hurt the North American lobster industry, which relies heavily on exports to Asia.

The US cattle industry has seen a significant drop in value as a result of “market uncertainty.”

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pigs in gestation crates
Smithfield Foods has apparently failed to deliver on promises to stop keeping pigs in gestation crates (CHIRATH PHOTO/Shutterstock.com)

Smithfield Foods & Animal Welfare

Smithfield Foods has come under fire for its treatment of the animals it “processes,” or slaughters, to turn into meat.

The Human Society (HSU) of the United States shared an exposé of Smithfield’s practices on its YouTube channel in 2010. In the footage, animals are pictured being thrown, hit, and kept in extreme confinement through the use of gestation crates.

According to more recent investigation conducted by animal-protection group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), the company has reportedly failed to provide adequate animal welfare since — and has even failed to deliver on its very public promise to stop using gestation crates.


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