Farmers, grocers watch for changes in meat industry supply chain

Coronavirus Watch

WESTERN KENTUCKY (WEHT) – The temporary closure of the Tyson plant in Henderson County is the latest for meat processing plants around the country is raising concerns about the supply and availability of certain foods.

Future closings at processing plants like Tyson’s scheduled to start Thursday has some grocers and some farmers thinking about the future of the meat industry’s supply chain.

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“I’m sure that’s in the back of people’s minds, what’s this going to lead to in a couple of weeks,” says Camron Knott, owner of Camron’s Foodliner in McLean County.

“The future is very vague. It’s unclear,” adds Daniel Hayden of Hayden Farms. He says he can hold chickens he’s growing longer than needed. He also has no plans to depopulate, or euthanize, his chickens like they have done in other parts of the country.

“If so, we are able to postpone some processing dates. We can maybe keep our chickens on our farm an extra week if they close down. We can postpone for those days and we can be fine,” Hayden said.

As Tyson’s Henderson County plant prepares to close for days, a Perdue spokeswoman says there are currently no plans to close their Ohio County plant or depopulate any of their farms. She says all facilities are cleaned and sanitized every 24 hours.

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The effects are starting to be felt at some supermarkets around the region. Knott says they are able to restock the shelves, but are finding it a little harder than usual to restock them.

“The past couple of weeks we’ve been ordering more, and it hasn’t been that big of a deal. But this week, it’s been harder to find the inventory to bring in. We’ve had to reach out to couple other vendors to get the inventory,” Knott explained.

Knott adds another factor is people are shopping more for home cooked meals since the pandemic started. 

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(This story was originally published on April 29, 2020)

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