COVID-19 Impact: Packers Reduce Harvests and Producers Face Crisis

The COVID-19 Pandemic affects more of the country on a daily basis, forcing the closure or slowdown of packing plants, and impacting producer’s bottom lines. Here’s the latest around the beef industry.

Interactive Packing Plant Map 

Interactive Map: Meat Packing Plant Status Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak has forced slowdowns and temporary closures of meat packing plants across the country. This interactive map will be updated as information becomes available.

Packing Plant Closures

USDA: Meatpacking Facilities Practicing Safe Reopening

Meatpacking facilities have resumed operations this week following the President's Executive Order directing facilities to implement CDC and OSHA guidelines created for the meat sector response to COVID-19.

JBS Reopens Green Bay Plant for Limited Operation

The plant was closed after cases of COVID-19 sickened workers.

Tyson Reopens Pasco Plant for Limited Production

The facility had been idled since April 23 as it tested team members for COVID-19.

Tyson Foods Doubles Bonuses and Support for Frontline Workers

Tyson Foods announced it is doubling bonuses, increasing short-term disability coverage and implementing additional health screening measures as part of its efforts to support frontline workers during the pandemic.

JBS Temporarily Closes Green Bay Plant Due to COVID-19

The Wisconsin plant employs 1,200 people and has been tied to 189 cases of the illness.

Tyson’s Pasco Plant Pauses Production to Test Employees for COVID-19

Production at the Pasco, Wash., facility will stop while the company works with health officials in surrounding counties to test team members for COVID-19.

Green Bay JBS Plant Linked to Almost 150 COVID-19 Cases

A cluster of 147 cases of coronavirus have been traced to JBS in Green Bay, in what appears to be Wisconsin’s largest outbreak from a single origin.

Cargill Idles High River Plant, Reopens PA

Cargill is temporarily closing its High River, Alberta, beef plant due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility. Meanwhile, the company says it has re-opened its processing facility in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

COVID-19: Tyson’s Pasco, WA, Plant Remains Open

Dozens of workers at Tyson's Pasco, WA, beef plant have tested positive for COVID-19, but the plant will remain open under heightened health and safety procedures.

Cargill’s High River, Alta., Beef Plant Slows To One Shift

Cargill’s High River, Alta., beef harvest facility has slowed to one shift beginning this week to prioritize the health and safety of employees, reducing harvest to about 1,500 head per day.

COVID-19: JBS Shutters Greeley Beef Plant, National closes Tama

Two of America’s largest beef packing companies have announced plant closings due to COVID-19. One in effect until April 20 and one until April 24. The plants have a combined harvest capacity of 6,500 cattle per day.

Pork and Beef Plant Closures: Dynamic Disruptions Continue

AgDay TV's Clinton Griffiths talks to NPPC and Drovers about how the recent closure of pork and beef processing plants in the U.S. are causing major disruption in the global protein market.

COVID-19: JBS Closes Greeley Beef Plant For Cleaning

JBS USA says its Greeley, Colo., beef plant will be closed through Tuesday for "deep cleaning" in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 among its thousands of employees. Two employee deaths have been reported.

COVID-19: Cargill Closes Pennsylvania Plant

Cargill has closed its processing plant in Hazelton, PA, which employs 900 workers, indicating it will reopen when "it is safe" to do so.

Officials Concerned About COVID-19 At Two JBS Plants

Officials in Weld County , Colo., and Hall County, Neb., are monitoring cases of COVID-19 that are linked to JBS USA beef packing facilities.

COVID-19 Financial Impact

Perdue Announces $19 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA has announced a $19 billion program to provide direct payments to farmers and bulk food purchases for food banks.

COVID-19’s Impact $14.6 Billion, USCA Analysis Says

An economic analysis released by the U.S. Cattlemen's Association says the total actual and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cattle industry is forecast to exceed $14.6 billion.

COVID-19: Cattle Industry Losses Estimated At $13.6 Billion

Estimated cattle industry losses due to COVID-19 will reach $13.6 billion, according to a study by ag economists conducted to assist USDA in determining how best to allocate CARES Act relief funds to cattle producers.

FJ Live: Perdue Says All Ag Part of $16 Bln. Direct Payment Plan

All sectors of agriculture, including produce, specialty crops and horticulture, will be included in a $16 billion direct payment plan to be submitted to the White House this week by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

What We Know About USDA’s COVID-19 Aid Package

President Donald Trump several times over the past week has indicated some $16 billion of COVID-19 farmer aid would be announced soon.

Industry Response

Beef Alliance Director Outlines Proposed Fed Cattle Set-Aside Program

Mary Soukup, managing director of the Beef Alliance, outlined the details of the proposed plan to AgriTalk’s Chip Flory.

Trump Asks DOJ To Investigate Meat Packers

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday he has asked the Justice Department to look into allegations that U.S. meat packers broke antitrust law.

Perdue Issues Letters On Meat Packing Expectations

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue sent two letters to Governors across the nation and leadership of major meat processing companies outlining expectations for the implementation of President Trump's executive order.

Proposed ‘Fed Cattle Set-Aside Program’ Surfaces

Modeled after a set-aside program used in Canada after the BSE crisis in 2004, the Fed Cattle Set-Aside Program proposal would fund placing cattle on a maintenance diet for 75 days.

Koontz Says Marketing Mandates May Produce Negative Impacts

In a letter to NCBA officers, agricultural economist Stephen R. Koontz says his work is taken out of context when used as a support for mandating beef packers to purchase at least 30% of their cattle on a cash basis.

CDC and OSHA Issue Interim Guidance for Packing Plants

Following outbreaks of COVID-19 in multiple plant facilities, the agencies have issued new recommendations for employee safety and to reduce risk of spread.

R-CALF Urges Trump, Congress To ‘Restructure’ Packers

R-CALF USA has asked President Trump and House and Senate leaders to conduct a review the beef supply chain and consider “whether a physical and geographical restructuring of the meatpacking industry is required."

FJ Live: Moran Says Livestock Industry has Trump's Attention

Senator Jerry Moran and the Farm Journal Livestock team react to President Donald Trump's order to keep packing plants open.

Senators Ask FTC to Open Antitrust Investigation into Packers

A bipartisan letter was sent the FTC to investigate the growing concentration in the meatpacking and processing industry, and any anticompetitive behavior resulting from this concentration.

Trump's Executive Order Draws Union Responses

While President Trump declares meat packing facilities "critical infrastructure," two unions urge the administration to work to keep workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

BREAKING: Trump to order U.S. meat processing plants to stay open

President Donald Trump plans to use the Defense Production Act to mandate that meat processing plants owned by Tyson Foods Inc and other companies remain open.

FJ Live: Kansas Looking for Isolation Housing for Packer Employees

In an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus in meat packing plants, Kansas authorities are considering making housing at junior colleges and other facilities available to packing plant employees.

23 State Cattle Groups Call for DOJ Investigation

The organizations request a formal investigation by the Department of Justice to identify and investigate any evidence of fraudulent business practices within the beef meatpacking industry.

COVID-19: Beef Checkoff Programs Shift To Address New Realities

Beef promotion programs managed by NCBA have shifted in response to the coronavirus pandemic to reflect consumer concerns about their day-to-day health and the availability of delicious, safe, wholesome food, like beef.

R-CALF Offers ‘Corrective Actions’ For Cattle Markets

During a Facebook Live address to cattlemen, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard outlined four actions his group proposes to "restore balance to our dysfunctional cattle markets."

NCBA President Shares Update About Group's Work on COVID-19 Response

Marty Smith, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, shared an update on how the group has been working for its membership to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Brackett Details Beef Checkoff Response to COVID-19

Jared Brackett, chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board explains how the Beef Checkoff and its contractors are reassessing their 2020 plans to better address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the beef industry.

Sen. Moran Urges Perdue to Make Emergency Payments to Cattle Producers

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today led a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to use his authority to make emergency payments to cattle producers. The letter was signed by seven additional senators.

NCBA Sends Letter to Capitol Hill Urging Relief for Cattle Producers

In response to the ongoing efforts to provide relief to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane issued the following statement.

Sen. Rounds Announces Plan to Help Producers with Cattle Market Crisis

The Republican Senator from South Dakota announced a three-part approach in a call with media on Thursday, Mar. 19.

NCBA Prioritizes Beef Supply Chain Continuation Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

NCBA is focusing its full attention on the rapidly changing COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the U.S. cattle industry. The top priority being ongoing operation of the full beef supply chain it says.

USCA Urges Action to Address Drop in Cattle Market due to COVID-19

The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take immediate steps to address the impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the U.S. cattle market.

NCBA Issues Statement About Coronavirus Impact to Beef Supply Chain

In addition to working within the beef community, NCBA is working closely with Congress, USDA and many other regulatory agencies to remove possible barriers to beef production.



Latest News

Tyson Announces Support for U.S. CattleTrace

Beef industry efforts to develop a voluntary animal traceability system gained significant traction today as Tyson Fresh Meats becomes the first beef processor to invest in membership to U.S. CattleTrace.

Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluations

Before bulls are turned out this spring a complete breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) should be conducted by a veterinarian, including a physical examination, reproductive tract examination, and semen evaluation.

Keeping the First Calf Heifers on Track

Heifers conceiving early in their first breeding season will have increased lifetime production and efficiency. It is critical heifers attain enough weight to initiate their first estrous before the onset of breeding.

Stepped-Up Basis Repeal Would Be Detrimental to Ranches

Study says this tax increase, whether via tax at death or carryover of basis, will have negative impacts on family-owned businesses, US gross domestic product, and job creation both in the immediate and long term.

Nutrition Communications Workshop in Iowa

The Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) recently hosted a nutrition communications workshop for dietetic graduate students enrolled in the University of Iowa’s Master of Clinical Nutrition Program.

Wendy's Corporate Responsibility Efforts and New Goals

Wendy's will focus on responsible sourcing, sustainable packaging, greenhouse gas reduction and increasing diversity within its leadership, management, and franchisees.