In this file:
· Concerns mount over processor shutdowns
· Abattoirs working to reduce closure risk, as consumer meat demand soars
Concerns mount over processor shutdowns
Shan Goodwin, Farm Weekly (Australia)
18 Mar 2020
AS line-ups outside city butchers grow and supermarkets introduce rations on red meat purchases, fears are mounting about the impact of potential coronavirus processor shutdowns.
From both a consumer and livestock producer perspective, the consequences would be devastating.
The sentiment was certainly evident at saleyards this week with yardings much larger, even taking into account the re-establishment of animal movement again post-rain.
However, industry leaders say everything is being put in place to ensure red meat keeps coming down the supply chain.
The shortages in domestic meat cabinets at the moment are largely limited to metropolitan areas and are the result of unwarranted hoarding. As such, they are expected to be temporary.
A whole-of-industry red meat virtual roundtable meeting was held yesterday to ensure supply chains continue to function as they should.
Red Meat Advisory Council chair Don Mackay said everyone in the beef and sheepmeat supply chain was focussed on working with supermarkets and butchers to keep them supplied.
"There is no doubt processors are dealing with big challenges at the moment. A number of things are being put in place to ensure we can get the system to continue to work effectively, including eliminating unnecessary regulatory hurdles while maintaining the rigour of audits," Mr Mackay said.
The industry is also pushing for the availability of coronavirus testing to increase significantly to expedite treatment and containment as well as eliminate unnecessary isolation and allow employees to return to the workforce.
Both lotfeeding and production sector sources have expressed concerns about big abattoirs having to halt operations completely.
Some suggestions have been made that processors struggling with high cattle costs and extreme volatility in global demand would be happy to shut up shop for a period and effectively 'cut their losses'.
However, industry experts said that defies logic when demand from the retail sector is red hot...
Abattoirs working to reduce closure risk, as consumer meat demand soars
James Nason, BEEF Central (Australia)
March 18, 2020
AUSTRALIAN meat processors are working to minimise the risk of abattoirs being forced to close in the event of one or more employees testing positive to COVID-19.
Protecting human health and minimising risks to workers remains the industry’s primary focus as rates of coronavirus infections around Australia rise, meat industry groups have told Beef Central.
At the same time potential impacts to livestock markets in the event of one or more abattoirs being forced to close if employees test positive to COVID-19 are also raising industry concerns.
Beef Central touched on the possibility in this article published yesterday, quoting analyst, Simon Quilty.
Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson told Beef Central the industry is closely following advice from the Federal Government and the Chief Medical Officer.
Any abattoir staff member who did test positive would require immediate isolation, as would any fellow employees with whom they had come into contact, and they would also require testing as quickly as possible.
For this reason Mr Hutchinson stressed it was critically important that Governments ensure adequate supplies of testing kits are available in rural and regional areas.
“The Government has got to be very mindful about ensuring rural and regional Australia, as anywhere else, has as many test kits as possible to ensure that facilities like processing plants providing meat throughout Australia are able to test effectively and quickly if required,” he said.
“The other thing that serves us well is that obviously as an industry we are world leaders in micro-biological management and sanitisation, and at the end of every shift there is obviously a complete washdown.
“We’re well in front to be able to meet any concerns that are being raised.”
Mr Hutchinson said AMIC has been in touch with State and Federal Government this week, and it was clear from those discussions that red meat is viewed and recognised as an essential service. He said it was also well understood that if coronavirus was to appear in any part of the supply chain, the need to minimise any disruptions or closures was well understood.
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