Will there be enough meat?


President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order Tuesday that would force meat processing plants to stay open to prevent a shortage in the food supply.

The order uses the Defense Production Act to categorize meat processing as critical infrastructure.

More than 20 meatpacking plants have closed temporarily under pressure from local authorities and their own workers because due to the coronavirus, including two of the nation’s largest, one in Iowa and one in South Dakota.

Others have slowed production as workers have fallen ill or stayed home to avoid getting sick.

Unions have criticized Trump saying he is jeopardizing lives.


In the last month, meat slaughters have declined significantly, from 2.7 million slaughters on March 28 to about 2 million on April 25, according to USDA data analyzed by CGTN.

The declines have caused meat industry leaders to warn consumers of potential meat shortages.

Tyson Foods Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and other newspapers Sunday warning, “The food supply chain is breaking.”

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” it read.

Here’s a look at what slaughters took place every day for the month of April.

The dip in hog slaughters on April 13, likely reflects Smithfield Foods’ announcement on April 12 that the world’s biggest pork processor will shut extend indefinitely the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant.

The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company.

Here’s a look at estimated hog and cattle slaughters for the month of April compared to the same day a year ago.

On April 29, the estimated hog slaughters was 271,000.

In 2019, the actual slaughters totaled 471,000 — a 42% drop.

Cattle slaughters also saw a significant decline.

On April 29, estimated cattle slaughters was 72,000, compared to 121,000 in 2019.

That represents a 41% decline.

Story with information from the Associated Press.