Increase in coronavirus cases in Iowa meat plants stirs debate
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is under increased pressure to get tougher with meat packing plants as coronavirus cases in the state continue to increase.
Reynolds says the state is working with the meat packers to make sure they are complying with the latest safety recommendations. And Reynolds says she has no plans to intervene with an executive order that would temporarily close plants.
“This isn’t like a regular facility where you shut it down for two weeks,” Reynolds says. “We have farmers that are raising hogs. If we aren’t able to move them through the process, at some point we’re going to have to be talking about euthanizing hogs. We’re not far from it and it would be devasting.”
The CEO of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Pat McGonegle, says the closures have put many producers in a bind.
“If we continue to close plants, we’re going to have some real issues for pork producers to deal with—as though they’re not dealing with them today,” McGonegle says. “And it’s beyond economics—we’ll have to deal with just how we’re going to take care of these pigs when we don’t have a market to access.”
McGonegle says pork processing in Iowa, which is normally 150-thousand hogs per day, is now below 120-thousand.
AUDIO: Pat McGonegle
Radio Iowa contributed to this report.