COVID-19 Impact: Packing Plant Closures and Market Disruptions

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

Heartbreaking headlines and discouraging news continue for U.S. pork producers as temporary closures of pork packing plants and rising employee absenteeism due to COVID-19 exacerbates an existing harvest facility capacity challenge due to a labor shortage in rural America.

Here’s the latest updates around the country.

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

Tyson Foods to Shut Down Storm Lake Pork Plant Due to COVID-19
Tyson Foods will temporarily halt operations at its Storm Lake, Iowa, pork processing facility after 555 employees tested positive for the virus, about 22% of the workforce, Reuters reports.

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.

COVID-19 Lawsuit Against Smithfield Dismissed
The judge said that while he took workers’ concern for their safety seriously, the court couldn’t ignore the authority of OSHA and USDA over coronavirus guidance, or steps Smithfield took to reduce risk of outbreak.

Tyson Foods to Resume Production at Waterloo Pork Plant
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., will resume limited production at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork facility on May 7. The plant temporarily suspended harvest operations on April 22 to test its team members for COVID-19. 

Smithfield Foods Partially Reopens Sioux Falls Packing Plant
The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls will partially reopen on Monday to staff two departments – ground seasoned pork and night cleanup, according to the Associated Press.

Tyson Shutters Pork Processing Plant in Madison, Nebraska
Tyson Foods is suspending operations at its pork packing plant in Madison, Neb. The northeast Nebraska plant was running at a reduced capacity on Friday and Saturday while testing its workforce for COVID-19. 

Triumph Foods Tests Employees for COVID-19
Employees at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Mo., were tested for COVID-19 last week. Of all the positive test results received thus far, Mark Campbell, Triumph Foods CEO, says over 90% have been from asymptomatic people.

Smithfield Foods Partially Reopens Sioux Falls Packing Plant
The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls will partially reopen on Monday to staff two departments – ground seasoned pork and night cleanup, according to the Associated Press.

Tyson Fresh Meats Plans to Reopen Logansport Pork Plant
Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., announced plans to resume limited production at its Logansport, Ind., facility the week of May 4, following a plant tour with local officials. 

Monmouth Pork Packing Plant to Resume Operations
The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Monmouth, Ill., plans to resume operations on May 2 after suspending operations at the plant on April 27 due to COVID-19.

Smithfield Foods Slows Production at Pork Plant in Crete, Nebraska
Smithfield Foods in Crete, Neb., will slow down production as COVID-19 cases continue to rise among plant workers.

Smithfield Foods Addresses COVID-19 Response
Smithfield Foods responded to misinformation asserted by some media about the company’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and opened up about the hard decisions they have made during this crisis.

Smithfield Foods to Temporarily Shutter Plant in Monmouth
Smithfield Foods, Inc. will proactively suspend operations at its Monmouth, Ill., pork processing facility on April 27 and until further notice after a small number of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Indiana Packers Corporation Will Shutter Delphi Plant
The Indiana Packers Corporation will temporarily suspend operations at its pork processing facility in Delphi, Ind., until further notice on April 27. It is the second pork plant in Indiana to shutter due to COVID-19.

Tyson Closes Logansport Facility to Test Employees for COVID-19
The Tyson Foods pork plant in Logansport, Ind., will voluntarily close while its more than 2,200 team members undergo testing for COVID-19. 

Tyson Foods Suspends Operations at Pork Plant in Waterloo, Iowa
Tyson Foods is suspending operations at its Waterloo plant indefinitely due to outbreaks of COVID-19.

FJ Live: Trying to Slow Hog Production Due to Plant Closures
Farm Journal Economist Chip Flory and John Nalivka of Sterling Marketing looked at how producers are managing throughput throughout the chain on Wednesday’s Farm Journal Live newscast.

Tyson Foods Reopens Columbus Junction Pork Plant
The Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, is reopening on Tuesday with limited operations.

COVID-19 Causes Temporary Closure of Two Hormel Manufacturing Plants
Hormel Foods has temporarily closed two subsidiary manufacturing plants, one in Rochelle, Ill., and the other in Alma, Kan., because of cases of COVID-19 tied to employees at the plants.

JBS USA Shutters Worthington Plant Indefinitely Due to COVID-19
JBS USA is closing its Worthington, Minn., pork production facility indefinitely, the company announced on Monday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among its employees at the plant.

COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Employees of Minnesota Pork Plant
The number of processing plants closing temporarily or reporting cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. continues to climb. On Friday, 19 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minn. 

Sonny Perdue Talks Working with CDC at Packing Plants
Ag. Secretary Sonny Perdue talks with Farm Journal Editor and AgDay Host Clinton Griffiths about the nation’s food supply and efforts to stop the spread of the virus at these plants.

Seaboard Triumph Foods Confirms COVID-19 Case in Sioux City Plant
An employee at Seaboard Triumph Foods’ (STF) pork processing plant in Sioux City, Iowa, tested positive for COVID-19, the company said on Thursday.

Tyson Foods Confirms Two Deaths Due to COVID-19 at Iowa Plant
Two employees of a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, have died, presumably from the effects of COVID-19.

CDC Inspects Sioux Falls Smithfield Plant as COVID-19 Cases Rise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Thursday to help with the largest coronavirus hot spot in the U.S.

Smithfield Shutters Two Additional Meat Processing Facilities
Smithfield Foods has shuttered two more U.S. plants that process pork, including a plant that processes bacon and sausage in Cudahy, Wisc., and a facility in Martin City, Mo., that processes spiral and smoked hams.

Tyson Foods to Keep Columbus Junction Plant Closed Another Week
Tyson Foods will keep its pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, closed this week as the plant now has 186 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

VIDEO: SD Smithfield Plant Temporarily Closes as State Stays Open
The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls announced it was closing until further notice. As of Tuesday, 438 total workers have tested positive with COVID-19. That’s an increase of nearly 100 overnight.

Olymel to Reopen Pork Processing Plant on Tuesday
Olymel will resume operations at its hog slaughter and cutting plant at Yamachiche, Quebec, Canada, on April 14 after closing for more than two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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.

Farm Journal Live: Update on Livestock Plant Closures
Live analysis of recent livestock processing facilities due to COVID-19 from NPPC and Drovers.

Smithfield Foods To Close Sioux Falls Plant Indefinitely Amid COVID-19
Smithfield Foods, Inc., announced an indefinite closure on Sunday of its Sioux Falls, S.D., pork processing plant amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

South Dakota Governor Asks Smithfield Foods to Close Plant for 14 Days
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken sent a letter to Smithfield Foods on Saturday recommending the closure of the Sioux Falls pork processing plant for 14 days.

COVID-19 Cases Double at Sioux Falls Packing Plant
The number of COVID-19 cases related to the Smithfield Foods’ pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., is now up to 190 cases, making it the fourth largest COVID-19 hotspot in the country. 

COVID-19: First Protein Processing Employee Deaths
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of at least three employees of America’s protein processing industries, one in Colorado and two in Georgia.

Smithfield Pork Plant Shuts Down for 3 Days Due to COVID-19
Smithfield Foods’ pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., is closing for three days starting on Saturday, April 11, and will remain closed on Sunday and Monday while essential employees clean the plant. 

Over 80 Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls
More than 80 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Smithfield Foods processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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.

Tyson Shutters Iowa Pork Plant Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Tyson Foods’ pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, has suspended operations for a week beginning Monday due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 confirmed at the facility.

COVID-19 Financial Impact

Lusk and Tonsor: America’s Indispensable Industry
Concerns about the livestock and poultry sectors are well founded. The process of transforming live animals into the wide array of edible products demanded by consumers is a complicated one.

Closed Meat Plants Today, Empty Meat Cases This Summer
A new report from CoBank says even if the reduction of processing capacity is temporary, it will likely have a lasting impact on meat processors, livestock producers, retail stores and consumers. 

Meat Processors May Have Trouble Getting Back to 80% Capacity
40% of the pork packing capacity is currently idled, and even with the President's Executive Order, increased safety measures and social distancing at plants means processing capacity won't be back to 100% anytime soon.

Is the Food Supply Chain Actually Breaking?
A full-page ad in the New York Times this week sparked a nationwide question: Is the food supply chain actually breaking? Agricultural economists disagree.

Top 40 Sow Owners Expected to Lose More than $18 Million Each
The top 40 sow owners in the U.S. will each lose more than $18 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, projects Dermot Hayes, an economist with Iowa State University. 

Packing Plant Storyline is Complex, Nalivka Says
While mainstream media talks about America running out of meat as a result of packing plant closures and slowdowns, the story is much more complex, says John Nalivka of Sterling Marketing in Vale, Ore.

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.

Pork Industry Faces $5 Billion Loss Due to COVID-19
Hog values are plummeting due to the impact of COVID-19 and creating a financial disaster for pork producers nationwide who face a collective $5 billion loss for the remainder of the year.

Pork Industry Prepares for Ripple Effects of Smithfield Plant Closing
The ripple effects of Smithfield Foods’ processing plant in Sioux Falls will have far-reaching effects on the industry, leaders in some of the top pork-producing states say.

Longer Processing Plant Closures Creating Dire Situation for Pork
More pork processing plants are idling production due to COVID-19 cases. The news sending shockwaves through the industry, with producers wondering how long the processing sector can make adjustments and accept hogs.

As Pork Processing Struggles to Adapt, Prices Fall 21%
As pork prices fall, some economists and analysts fear more plant processing closures could come soon. That's as producers explore ways to reduce costs and weather this market headwind in order to not repeat the 1990s.


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.

Ag Business Only Window for EIDL Loans Open
The Small Business Administration (SBA) began accepting applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) exclusively for agricultural businesses on Monday.  

Members of House Send Bipartisan Letter in Support of Pork Producers
The letter to President Donald Trump requesting improvements to pork producer aid offered by the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. It also requests support by opening up existing programs for pork producers.

Peterson Promises Indemnity for Depopulation in Next COVID Bill
Reopening packing plants and getting harvesting capacity back up to normal levels is critical, said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. He's been working with JBS SA to reopen the Worthington plant.

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.

Farm Journal Live: Sen. Jerry Moran Reacts to Packing Plant Order
Today on Farm Journal Live, Senator Jerry Moran and the Farm Journal livestock team respond to President Donald Trump's order to keep meat packing plants open.

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.

Iowa Leaders Request Immediate Assistance for Pork Producers
U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley along with Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for additional support for Iowa pork producers.

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.

USDA APHIS Establishes Coordination Center to Help Livestock Producers
USDA's APHIS is establishing a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures due to COVID-19.

NPPC Urges SBA to Remove Restriction on Lending Program
U.S. pork producers, in dire straits as a result of COVID-19 and facing a collective $5 billion loss, are now being denied access the SBA Payroll Protection Program due to restrictive language, the NPPC says.

Peterson Pleads with Pence to Address Challenges Facing Hog Farmer
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson called on the Federal government to address the building stress and challenges facing the nation’s pork producers in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence.

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.

NPPC Helps U.S. Pork Producers During COVID-19 Crisis
The National Pork Producers Council has been in overdrive to garner much-needed support for hog farmers, says Nick Giordano, NPPC vice president and counsel, global government affairs.

Smithfield CEO: Processing Plants Must Keep Running
America has an abundance of livestock, but U.S. hog producers need harvest facilities up and running to convert that abundancy into food, explained Smithfield Foods CEO and president Kenneth Sullivan on Fox News

Feds Loosen COVID-19 Rules for Essential Workers
The Trump administration issued new guidelines Wednesday to make it easier for essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to work if they do not have symptoms.

Producer Perspective


Medical Doctors and Swine Veterinarians Team Up to Fight COVID-19
Building on swine veterinarian experience and insights on population medicine, Farm Journal’s PORK is taking a deeper look at “whole-herd” immunity in the U.S. workforce.

COVID-19: The Rest of the Story
Whole Herd Testing Begins to Reveal the Real Percentages

COVID-19 Tests Reveal Surprising Results
The results of this testing shows the actual number of people who are sick, need to be hospitalized or need to be in the intensive care unit because of this disease, is a lower percentage than experts initially thought.

When Is it Safe to Go Back to Work?
As experts learn more about antibodies, PCR testing and the interplay between the two, Dr. Jeremy Cauwels believes they will be able to identify the people in a workforce who haven't been affected, and those who have.

Antibody Testing: A Critical Piece of the Puzzle (for People and Pigs)
As more packing plants and large farms begin “whole herd testing” of their employees, initial PCR test results are showing far more positive COVID-19 test results than expected with upward of 90% being asymptomatic.

Pork Producers Face Intense Uncertainty, Making Last Resort Decisions
The heavy financial and emotional weight is growing as more packing plants slowed or shut down last week. With nowhere to go with their pigs, some pork producers are making 'last resort' decisions.

Defense Production Act Allows Pig Farmers to Continue Life’s Work
Pig farmers applaud President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to invoke the Defense Production Act to extend needed support to meat processors to ensure an abundant supply of protein for Americans.

Pig Farmers Exhaust All Options to Avoid Unprecedented Decisions
No rock is being left unturned to move pigs right now, says Illinois pig farmer Thomas Titus. With packing plants closing and slowing down temporarily, pig farmers are faced with unprecedented decisions.

Herd Immunity in Pigs: A Case Study for Getting America Back to Work
How does herd immunity in pigs apply to COVID-19? Some veterinarians say it has everything to do with this current pandemic situation.

The Push to Process Local is a Positive for Some Pork Producers
As more packing plants shut down, and consumers fear a shortage of protein at their grocery store, COVID-19 is causing a rush for demand for locally raised beef and pork.

COVID-19 Relief Package Leaves Many Pig Farmers Behind
Pig farmers say USDA’s COVID-19 relief package won’t be enough to offset the losses expected for some farmers this year.

A Hog Producer’s Look at Plant Closures: ‘We Are Very Nervous’
Plants which have closed are trying to reroute loads. The industry says many plants were already at capacity, which created a larger problem. Some producers share their stories.

COVID-19: It’s Not a Repeat of the 1990s for Pig Farmers
Despite all of the comparisons to the 1998 hog price wreck, the black swan event surrounding COVID-19 is a much different beast, experts say.

Pig Farmers: Are We Going to Produce Food in the U.S. or Not?
Despite all of the comparisons to the 1998 hog price wreck, the black swan event surrounding COVID-19 is a much different beast, experts say.

Pork Producers Face Harsh Reality of COVID-19
The ripple effects of COVID-19 are forcing pork producers to face heartbreaking realities. The shuttering of one U.S. pork plant due to workers contracting COVID-19 has sent shocks through the industry.