Last week, Smithfield Foods made headlines when it decided to shut down a major pork producing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Now, Tyson has decided to do the same, sparking even greater concerns that we could be in for a looming pork shortage.

The closure of Tyson’s  Waterloo, Iowa facility comes after the Black Hawk County health department linked it to 182 of the county’s 374 positive COVID-19 cases, inspiring both a period of diminished production and calls from mayor Quentin Hart to shut down the facility. An even larger number of the plant’s 2,800 workers had called out sick in recent days.

There’s no existing timetable for the plant’s reopening, but its staff will be paid during the shutdown (though it’s unclear for how long) and all employees “will be invited to take COVID-19 tests later this week,” according to CNN.

That’s not the only Tyson plant who will be winding down production this week. As a press release indicates, Tyson Foods subsidiary Tyson Fresh Meats will shut down its pork processing facility in Logansport, Indiana on or before April 25. Similarly to the Waterloo plant, its 2,200 employees will undergo testing during the closure, and also be paid while it’s not up and running.

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Taken together, those two closures have left the company with some serious concerns about the industry’s ability to feed America the pork it so desperately craves.

“Closing facilities has serious implications to the national food supply for American families, local communities, growers and farmers,” Tyson Fresh Meats group president Steve Stouffer said. “Consumers will see an impact at the grocery store as production slows. It also means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply.”

So if there was ever a time to either stock up on bacon or adopt either a kosher or a vegetarian diet, it’s probably right about now. Thankfully, I can assure you that a plain old egg and cheese isn’t that bad.



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