EXCLUSIVE: Mounds of pig corpses are seen from farms forced to euthanize healthy hogs while grocers run out of meat - as pork producers say they will kill 10 MILLION more because major processing plants remain closed
· WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS
· Farmers will have to euthanize 10 million pigs by mid-September to avoid overcrowding because meat processing plants remain closed due to COVID-19
· DailyMail.com has disturbing photos showing mounds of dead hogs at the JBS USA processing plant in southern Minnesota
· Thousands of healthy pigs that were originally scheduled to be processed instead had to be euthanized at the processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota
· 'Each day JBS is shut down, another 20,000 pigs that were scheduled to be processed have to go somewhere,' said one pig farmer
· Currently about 170,000 pigs per day cannot be sent to plants, and there is not nearly enough space to house all of them
· The National Pork Producers Council says the decision to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs in the coming months is ‘the only humane option’
· The JBS plant processes 4percent of the nation's pork and voluntarily shutdown operations on April 20 after more than 200 employees tested positive for COVID - 19 but has reopened at limited capacity
By Alan Butterfield In Worthington, Minnesota And Sandra Clark and Ralph Ortega For Dailymail.com (UK)
15 May 2020
Farmers say they will have to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs by mid-September to avoid overcrowding because meat processing plants remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Currently, about 170,000 pigs per day cannot be sent to plants, and there is not nearly enough space to house all of them, the National Pork Producers Council says.
The decision to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs in the coming months is 'the only humane option,' the trade organization says, since the animals can grow large quickly in confined settings and can become aggressive with each other.
This comes as DailyMail.com has obtained exclusive disturbing photos of thousands of dead hogs already euthanized at the JBS USA processing plant in southern Minnesota, after the plant shut down operations due employees testing positive for COVID-19.
Meatpacking plants across the US have been closed over coronavirus outbreaks among workers since the start of April, impacting major food companies, including Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA Holdings, and Cargill.
There have been 14,000 confirmed cases in 181 meat processing plants of the coronavirus, which has been blamed for the deaths of 54 workers, reports CBS News.
As much as 40 per cent of America’s pork-packaging capacity has been idled.
Thousands of healthy pigs that were originally scheduled to be processed instead had to be euthanized at the JBS pork processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota.
The JBS Worthington Plant, which processes 4percent of the nation's pork, voluntarily shutdown operations on April 20 after more than 200 of its 2,000 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Because of the processing plant's closure, farmers couldn't bring their pigs to get processed, leaving pig farmers no other option but to humanely euthanize thousands of their market weight hogs.
As farmers move to euthanize their pigs, the bodies of thousands of the animals have already been left rotting on compost heaps, disposed of by slaughterhouses.
Hundreds of thousands of animals are already backed up, and CoBank says an estimated 7 million animals may have to be destroyed during the current quarter. That translates into roughly a billion pounds of meat lost to consumers.
Some pigs have even been thrown into tree grinders, reminiscent of a scene in the film Fargo, where a similar device is used to dispose of human body parts.
Bloomberg reports rendering plants are seeing higher volumes of hogs turned into everything from gelatin to sausage casings.
Meanwhile, meat exports to China have quadrupled, while American consumers have seen supply shortages in grocery stores across the country.
The culling effort is the largest ever seen, Bloomberg reports.
To help out farmers cull their pigs, JBS reopened in a limited capacity with a staff of 10-20 employees to help with the 'anticipated humane euthanization of approximately 13,000 market weight hogs per day during the pandemic crisis.'
'A market weight pig usually weighs 280 pounds when it's sent to slaughter,' said Randy Weirtsema, 56, of Rushmore, Minnesota, a third generation hog farmer with more than 15,000 pigs told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.'
'Once that pig hits that weight it needs to be taken to the slaughter house, at this time the pig is gaining about 2 ½ pounds a day. There is only a week or so timeframe a farmer has to send their pigs to the slaughter house to be processed, if not the pig gets too big.'
Wiertsema says the hooks at the processing plant can't hold a pig that weighs much more than 300lbs and the heavier the pig gets the more susceptible they are to getting injured because of their weight.'
'Each day JBS is shut down, another 20,000 pigs that were scheduled to be processed have to go somewhere' continued Wiertsema.
'The life cycle of a pig is about 5-6 months, so every day and week matters. A pig farmer brings in new pigs every week to raise. Every week he takes the market weight hogs to the slaughterhouse, without the processing plant taking the grown pigs, it puts a strain on the farmer and entire system.'
Wiertsema added that each time a pig is euthanized the farmer is out $150 per hog. He's sickened by the prospect of having to euthanize any pig, 'it's a waste on every level, we raise pigs for a reason, to feed people.'
Wiertsema, who sends his pigs to the JBS plant for processing, says they are killed in a humane matter.
'The pigs are put in an enclosed box, about seven of them at a time. Then CO2 is pumped into the box rendering them unconscious in a matter of minutes. It's painless they don't feel a thing. They basically go to sleep.'
He says so far he hasn't had to euthanize any pigs but he's only a week or two away from having to make that dreadful decision.
But several farmers weren't so lucky and have had to euthanize thousands of pigs themselves.
Dailymail.com was outside the JBS plant capturing exclusive pictures of dump truck loads of euthanized perfectly healthy market weight hogs being taken out of the plant.
The dead pigs were stacked so high on one other you could see the legs and pig's ears flopping in the wind as the dump truck sped down the highway.
Several hundred pigs were taken to an animal food processing plant, Dar Pro outside of Sioux City, Iowa about 75 miles south of the Worthington Plant.
But DailyMail.com found a secret location where at least a 1,000 euthanized pigs were dumped at a rural cow farm approximately 50 miles from the JBS processing plant.
When the farmer was approached by a DailyMail.com reporter he spoke on the condition his name and the location of his farm was not disclosed in this story.
The farmer said, 'I have taken in about 1,000 pigs to be composted on my farm I'm not getting paid to do this, I'm doing it to help out the local pig farmers dispose of their product.'
The farmer said he didn't know how many more pigs he was going to take in in the coming week, but believed there would be more truckloads of them dumped at his property.
There were thousands of pigs partially covered in soil at the edge of the 60-acre property, close by was a small pond where ducks and geese where floating.
The stench and smell of the death permeated the air, flies were buzzing around.
In an area encompassing the size of about three football fields there were hundreds if not thousands of partially buried pigs in mounds of dirt, about three feet off the ground.
In another area...
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