Page 6 - MWC 4-23-20s
P. 6

Meat Production Threatened

                                                                                                    The Midwest Cattleman · April 23, 2020 · P6

      with Disruption                                      By Derrell Peel - Oklahoma State University

                                                          poultry are si- tion facilities, or even dispos-
                                                          multaneously  al of animals.
                                                          threatened as       Such     disruptions     could
                                                          COVID-19 in- result in reduced flows of
                                                          fections affect  fresh meat to consumers,
                                                          labor     avail- compounded by the continu-
                                                          ability     and ing bottlenecks created by          lower.
                                                          processing  the drastic reduction in the               The impacts may already
                                                          capacity      in food service sector, roughly       be showing up in the beef
                                                          multiple     fa- half of total food distribu-       industry.   Estimated  cattle
                                                          cilities  across  tion. Since early March, those    slaughter for the week ended
                                                          all meat in- bottlenecks resulted in limit-         April 11 was 536,000 head,
                                                          dustries.         ed meat availability in retail    down over 14 percent from
                                                             Reduced  grocery despite an ample sup-           the previous week and near-
                                                          processing ca- ply of meat production.              ly 16 percent lower than the
                                                          pacity  could       The next few weeks could        same week last year.  The re-
                                                          cause     back- result in continuing shortag-       ductions include both year-
                                                          ups in live an- es  of meat  at  retail  grocery    ling (steer and heifer) slaugh-
                                                          imal supplies  due to a short-run reduction         ter as well as cow and bull
                                                          if     animals in processing capacity and re-       slaughter  with both catego-
                                                          cannot       be duced supplies of all meats.        ries down double digits year
                                                          processed in  Wholesale and retail meat             over year for the week.
         The U.S. meat industry  a timely fashion. The severity  prices may be pushed higher                     This predicament could
      faces unprecedented threats  of impacts will depend on spe- as a result of limited supply.              result in a situation not pre-
      as COVID-19 sweeps through  cific  situations  and  locations  At the same time, limited pro-           viously seen in the beef in-
      labor forces at meat process- but could include costly de- cessing capacity may limit de-               dustry.    It may  simply  not
      ing    facilities   nationwide. lays in holding animals until  mand for slaughter animals
      Production of beef, pork and  slaughter, backlogs in produc- and push farm level prices                               continued on page 20

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