Pork processing plant dilemma
The COVID-19 pandemic has the livestock sector wrestling with worker safety and the need to keep processing plants operational.
Minnesota Ag Commissioner Thom Petersen says there are no easy answers as more pork processors shut down, leaving hogs with nowhere to go.
“That really is the crux of it. And I’ll say our plants are doing a great job, they’re trying to really figure this out.”
He tells Brownfield Minnesota has around 20 processing plants with 100 or more employees.
“We are doing everything we can. Governor (Walz) has stated several times that the priority is to keep the plants running, but we need to balance that with worker safety. We need the workers to feel safe.”
Petersen says closures of the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls and JBS in Worthington have backed up thousands of market ready hogs.
“It’s really a gut punch, and it’s really limited as far as what’s available right now. We’re looking at all options.”
He says those options include expanding farms where possible, slowing feed rations, and unfortunately, euthanizing animals.