Closures of many beef and pork processing plants across the United States and Canada after workers were infected with Covid-19 may reduce North American meat industry output as much as 25%.
However, shifting production to other plants should eventually make up for a significant portion of the shortfall.
Thousands of workers standing elbow-to-elbow for eight-hour shifts without proper protection, health checks, or health care, was described by one commentator as the “perfect, well-inoculated petri dish for the rapid spread of the virus”.
An analysis commissioned by the US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), using existing market data and futures market data, suggested market damage could exceed $14.6 billion, split fairly equally across the cattle production chain between feedlots, backgrounding, and cow/calf farms.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. cattle industry cannot be overstated,” said USCA president Brooke Miller.