“The Food Supply Chain Is Breaking,” Says Tyson Foods As Several Plants Shut Down.

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New York (CNN Business) – Tyson Foods warned that “millions of pounds of meat” will disappear from the supply chain as the coronavirus pandemic has led food processing plants to shut down, causing a product shortage at grocery stores across the country.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” wrote Board President John Tyson in a full-page ad published Sunday in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


American farmers have nowhere to sell their livestock, he said.

“There will be a limited supply of our products available in supermarkets until we can reopen our currently closed facilities,” Tyson wrote.

Tyson Foods, which employs approximately 100,000 workers, closed its pork plants in Waterloo, Iowa and Logansport, Indiana, last week so that workers at those facilities can be tested for the coronavirus.

The closure of the Waterloo plant came after weeks of public pressure. Production had already slowed there because many of its 2,800 workers had been reporting illness, and local health authorities linked the Tyson plant to 182 cases of coronavirus, nearly half of the county’s total.

CNN recently spoke to three employees who work at the facility who expressed constant concern that not enough was done to protect them from covid-19. One worker said that it was almost impossible to practice social distancing within the facilities.

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When CNN asked Tyson Foods about those claims, the company said the plants were disinfected on a daily basis. And Tyson, the president, wrote in Sunday’s announcement that the company has taken steps to protect its workers, including taking the temperature and wearing face masks at all of its facilities. He added that the company is paying bonuses to front-line workers and truckers, in addition to donating food to local communities.

Some of the country’s largest slaughterhouses (processing plants) have been forced to temporarily cease operations after thousands of employees across the country tested positive for the virus.

Pork processing plants have been particularly affected, and three of the largest in the United States have been closed indefinitely: Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; the JBS Pork Processing Plant in Worthington, Minnesota; and the Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa. The three plants represent approximately 15% of the country’s pork production.

– CNN’s Dianne Gallagher, Pamela Kirkland and Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.