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Vox, May 4, 2020: The closure of meatpacking plants will lead to the overcrowding of animals. The implications are horrible.
Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue says pork and poultry production (and to a lesser extent beef production) is done on a “just-in-time” basis meaning that as they send off mature hogs to slaughter other younger hogs are being grown to immediately take their place. There isn’t much excess capacity if the mature hogs have to stick around due to meatpacking bottlenecks.
"Each of those facilities is usually filled to maximum capacity, for efficiency’s sake. That makes a bottleneck like closed processing plants immensely challenging for farmers. If they can’t offload mature pigs to meatpacking plants (which usually slaughter and dismember the finished pigs), then they have nowhere to place pigs coming up from nurseries. If they leave pigs in their nurseries, then the youngest piglets just weaned off their mothers have nowhere to go. If those piglets go nowhere, then pregnant pigs have nowhere to go once they give birth. A blockage at one point in the process causes problems throughout the whole process."
So like milk being dumped and agricultural products being plowed under, the pigs too are finding their places back to nature and not on our dinner tables. "A representative for the Minnesota Pork Producers Association told the Star-Tribune he expects 60,000 to 80,000 hogs will be put down this week in Minnesota alone."
And that raises the next question: what to do with the bodies of so many "euthanized" pigs? Land fills?