Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Beef in a Nebraska Slaughterhouse Photo: Nati Harnik, AP
Tens of thousands of pigs, chickens, and cattle are stuck on large livestock farms due to processing plant closures because of COVID outbreaks among plant workers. When even one plant closes, it leaves thousands of animals stranded and wrecks existing supply chains. Farmers have no choice but to take drastic actions in order to deal with overcrowding including terminating pig pregnancies and even euthanizing pigs because at a certain size they are too big to process. Consequently, the President yesterday ordered the plants to remain open despite the fact that thousands of workers have tested positive or have been exposed to the virus and the plants have not taken the necessary precautions to protect them from contracting the virus.
Why This Matters: The President’s order cannot change the course of the virus nor will it solve the problems caused by giant industrial hog and chicken farms, and unsafe slaughterhouses that the virus is exposing. According to the Environmental Working Group, 5,000 meatpacking workers have either tested positive for the virus or were in self-quarantine. Experts believe this is only going to make matters worse — especially if the public is concerned it is not safe or if the plants can’t get workers to fill in for the ones who are ill or quarantined. Critics of industrial-scale livestock farming say that change has long been needed.
Consolidation in the meat industry has been a growing concern — both due to its environmental impacts and its health and animal welfare ones. As we have written, concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs that house thousands of pigs or chickens or beef trigger a number of environmental and health concerns including pollution caused by the enormous amount of feces and other unsanitary waste to excessive use of antibiotics on the animals to greenhouse gas emissions coming from these facilities. But the system has evolved this way because, at a large scale, meat can be distributed to mass markets through well-established supply chains that make the products easy to buy and inexpensive for consumers, according to the industry. But at a time of crisis, the concentration in the industry leads to large disruptions. For example, E&E News explained, for example, that one plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. closed due to a COVID outbreak among the workers, it impacted 5% of the entire country’s pork supply, which put tens of thousands of hogs in limbo. Similarly, four out of every five cattle in the United States are slaughtered by just five beef processing firms.
As a result of plant closures and supply chains breaking, many farmers have no choice but to euthanize their livestock before they even get to the slaughterhouse because farmers are either short on space to house their animals or lack the money to feed them or both, Reuters reported. John Tyson, chairman of top U.S. meat supplier Tyson Foods., told Reuters that millions of pigs, chickens, and cattle will be euthanized because of slaughterhouse closures, limiting supplies at grocers. Apparently the pork industry has taken the biggest beating with daily production cut by about a third and in contrast to cows that can be housed outside on pasture, “U.S. hogs are fattened up for slaughter inside temperature-controlled buildings. If they are housed too long, they can get too big and injure themselves.”
By Nilanga Jayasinghe, Manager of the Wildlife Conservation team at World Wildlife Fund Imagine living in a modern, densely populated city. On any given morning, you might expect to look out your window and see a stream of cars and pedestrians on their daily commute, bustling shops and restaurants selling their wares, or perhaps local […]
Guest Post by Azzedine Downes, President & CEO, International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW has long been a leader in recognizing the inherent link between biodiversity and climate change, the existential threat both issues pose to life on our planet, and the critical need to address both these threats together. This week, the results of […]
President Biden: "Watch out for the cicadas. I just got one – it got me." pic.twitter.com/jfrik4bgpB — The Hill (@thehill) June 9, 2021 If you live in Washington, D.C. the cicadas are hard to ignore. But this week their mating-frenzied existence reached new levels of intrusion in day-to-day DC. On Tuesday evening, as AP’s Jonathan […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.