Two Iowa meat plants close as COVID-19 outbreak spreads

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc said on Monday it shut an Iowa hog slaughterhouse after more than 24 cases of COVID-19 involving employees at the facility, in the latest disruption to the U.S. food supply chain from the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Reduced meat output as the country battles COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, threatens to tighten supplies of certain products at a time when demand is soaring from consumers at grocery stores.

Tyson said it will divert hogs to other pork plants in an attempt to minimize the disruption from the closure of its slaughterhouse in Columbus Junction, Iowa, this week.

The facility kills about 10,100 hogs a day, or about 2% of the country’s total slaughtering capacity, according to Steve Meyer, economist for U.S. commodity firm Kerns and Associates.

Separately, National Beef Packing Company said it suspended cattle slaughtering at a plant in Tama, Iowa, this week for a cleaning that was previously scheduled for later this month.

“These are unprecedented times for our industry,” National Beef said in a statement.

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