Lockdown is Destroying Food Supply Chain
Lockdown is Destroying Food Supply Chain
That foam tray of plastic wrapped chicken wings you plop into your grocery shopping basket — how did it get there? What will you do when it goes missing next winter?
Back in the 1980s I hosted over the course of several summers, Japanese high school students. They traveled to the US to stay with American families for about six weeks and hone their conversational English skills. And have some fun toodling around Southern California. I remember one student from Tokyo who was actually a little freaked out when I prepared a whole chicken for roasting. This was just the usual roaster chicken from the supermarket but she was only used to seeing chicken parts, individually wrapped, in Tokyo markets. Intellectually she understood where those parts came from, but still …
I can’t help thinking about this kind of urban-induced blind spot on where our food comes from when I hear of politicians downplaying the threat of food shortages as little more than “anxiety”
Now, in the second month of the COVID-19 shutdown in Connecticut, the disconnect between what officials say about the food supply and what the economically challenged are experiencing is obvious: hundreds of people in cars lined up for bags of free groceries, half empty grocery store shelves, and food banks and pantries just flat out of food.
Officials up and down government insist the U.S. has plenty of food, including Gov. Ned Lamont, who last week called it “anxiety” about a shortage rather than an actual shortage.
The officials are busily reassuring people there’s plenty of food but the producers – farmers, ranchers and dairy producers – are sounding a warning about this lockdown we need to heed right now.
Tyson Foods suspended operations at its pork processing plant in Iowa on Wednesday April 22nd. That plant alone accounts for 3.9% of the nation’s pork supply. While the closure was done in order to test the employees for coronavirus, hundreds of the employees had been staying home out of fear, impacting processing. Tyson also is closing a plant in Logansport, Indiana, that processes hogs from nine states. One economist estimates that about 25% of pork processing has been closed or suspended.
In the meantime, where are those farmers to take their hogs for processing? Not just hog farmers, but chicken? The reality on the ground is pretty stark accord to this poultry grower:
I am a poultry grower in Sussex County. My integrator (the company I contract to grow chickens with) is depopulating 3.2 million market- age chickens right now. The reason we are doing this is because we are running at about 1/3 of our production capacity due to employee absences at the processing plants. The vast majority of these absences are not due to sickness but to fear and childcare issues.
The farmer does not own the birds. We grow them on contract. They are not ours to give away. The company and farmers have liability concerns about people coming on farms to remove the birds before they are depopulated. […]
The pork industry is facing the same issues. Market age hogs are being euthanized also.
This quarentine (sic) is causing extensive disruptions in our food supply chains. When I hear people dismiss the consequences of this quarantine as nothing more than me wanting to “go to bars and restaurants” they have no idea that we farmers of America are concerned with putting food on your table, not wining and dining ourselves.
This unreasoning fear, the irrational rules imposed, have given rise to segments of the population actually calling people raising legitimate questions “terrorists” and “killers”. That somehow this house-arrest is little more than mere inconvenience.
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We already have a problem with the lockdown and irrational fear keeping people from emergency rooms. Is that fear, coupled with unhinged political hatred, motivating some politicians to artificially extending the lockdown? Inquiring minds.
And all the more to the detriment of people ruled by those who don’t understand it takes a dairy farmer in business before the $12 a pint ice cream can be hoarded in the freezer.
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