Fourth USDA inspector dies of coronavirus amid meat plant reopenings, millions of hogs facing euthanasia
By Danielle Wallace, Fox News
May 14, 2020
A fourth food inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has died from the coronavirus following outbreaks across the country’s meat processing plants, according to a report Wednesday.
A USDA food inspector based in Dodge City, Kan., died after contracting COVID-19, acting president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 45, Paula Schelling, told Bloomberg. It was unclear where the virus was contracted. The union did not identify the inspector, per the request of the family.
This comes as at least 14 meat processing plants plan to reopen this week. Half of those are operated by Tyson Foods Inc.
There’s been an estimated 40 percent reduction in meat processing capacity nationwide, Jason Lusk, the head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University, told NPR, meaning that about 200,000 hogs per day are ready for slaughter but instead left on farms.
Millions of pigs will have to be euthanized, as hog farmers are left with nowhere to sell their ready-to-market livestock, NPR reported Thursday. Hogs grow quickly, and about six months after birth, they’re too large for processing and won’t be accepted by most pork plants.
On Friday, the USDA announced 14 plants – including beef, pork and poultry processors – were reopening this week. The plants are in Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Washington, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Tyson has agreed to cut prices by 30 percent on some its beef products this week. Shoppers have faced rising grocery costs amid the pandemic.
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