As U.S. meat workers fall sick and supplies dwindle, exports to China soar
- President Donald Trump recently ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect our nation’s food supply while plant workers were increasingly testing positive for Covid-19 and some were even dying. At the same time, exports to China have significantly increased, while U.S. consumers are facing protein shortages.
- President Trump is now receiving criticism for putting plant workers at risk ensuring China’s meat supply is fulfilled.
- China’s need for protein imports increased after African swine fever led to the death of half the country’s hog herd over the past two years.
- “We know that over time exports are critically important. I think we need to focus on meeting domestic demand at this point,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary.
- Daily slaughter of pigs has decreased by 40% since mid-March. All the while, American pork exports to China have quadrupled over the same period, according to the USDA.
- China owned, Smithfield (the world’s largest pork processor), was the biggest U.S. pork exporter to China from January to March.
- JBS has reported that the company has reduced exports to focus on meeting U.S. demand during the pandemic.
- S. farmers have struggled financially over the past few years as they felt the affects of a trade war with Beijing. At that time there was an oversupply of hogs. Hog producers are now facing the reality of record high exports, pork shortages at the retail level, and a glut of hogs that can’t be slaughtered due to processing plant closures, which has led to euthanize of thousands of hogs.
Restaurant executives, meat wholesalers say shortages and price increases could continue throughout the summer
- Meat distributors, grocery store owners, and restaurateurs expect to be dealing with limited beef, pork, and chicken supply through the 4th of July.
- There is also an increased uncertainty in demand as restaurant owners are unsure if people will return to eating out as often as they did before the pandemic.
- 1 in 5 Wendy’s across our nation has removed various items from their menu due to the meat shortage.
- In Canada, McDonald’s is known for buying domestic beef, however they are now using imported beef to fill the shortage.
- Analysts are expecting beef prices to continue to climb as restaurants begin to open their doors.
Senator Grassley: It’s time to analyze aid packages
- On Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was featured on Agritalk, hosted by Chip Flory.
- Senator Grassley discussed how the government should analyze how relief aid packages are being used throughout our country.
- Senator Grassley, along with 13 other senators recently sent a letter to Congress requesting additional funding for farmers on top of what has already been allocated through aid packages.
- “Working with the Iowa and Nebraska cattlemen, we’re going to put in a bill that at least 50% of the slaughter of cows needs to be done by independent negotiations between a willing buyer and a willing seller, as opposed to what we’re up against now, where let’s say 80% of the market is contracted and there’s only about 20% out there for the independent producer. We need more of a market for the independent producer that we don’t have today,” he said.
Boxed beef update
- Choice boxed beef: $468.58 (+$7.70)
- Select boxed beef: $452.97 (+$3.98)