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Author Topic: People want beef. Ranchers have cows. Here’s what’s going wrong  (Read 209 times)

Offline Fansome

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People want beef. Ranchers have cows. Here’s what’s going wrong
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By Samantha Masunaga, Sarah Parvini, Susanne Rust
May 12, 2020
5 AM

There’s no shortage of demand for beef.

Prices are up. Grocery stores are limiting how much each customer can buy. Last week more than 1,000 Wendy’s restaurants ran out of hamburgers.

There’s also no shortage of cattle earmarked to be turned into beef.

But prices for those animals have dropped. Sales are down. At a recent livestock auction in the San Joaquin Valley, just a handful of buyers bothered to make an appearance.

The problem is in the middle of this pipeline: the crisis at meat processing plants.

Employees at these factories work closely together, and thousands nationwide have become infected with the novel coronavirus. At least 20 have died. As their workers fall ill, the plants have lowered capacity or temporarily shut down.

The plants’ diminished capacity means some beef can’t get processed, and that has thrown cold water on the market for cattle: Why pay top dollar for the animals if you might not be able to sell them later?

That’s a problem for California, the nation’s fifth-largest cattle-producing state. In a good year, commercial ranchers could aim to get more than $1 per pound for a premium calf. Now, the expected price has dived 15% to 25%, said Mark Lacey, president of the trade group California Cattlemen’s Assn.

“We’ve had some major droughts, we have had some bad market years, but this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Megan Brown, a sixth-generation cattle rancher and manager of Brown Ranch in Plumas and Butte counties. “Even in the family history, nothing compares to this.”

...

(https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-05-12/how-coronavirus-disrupted-california-meat-plants)

Offline redhat

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Not just beef, but pork processors are having labor problems as well.  Working in these places is pretty wretched.

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Offline Pigmeat

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I knew a guy who moved to N.C. to be head debeaker at a poultry processing plant. He didn't last long. The Ozark Mt. Daredevils had a minor hit with "Chicken Train Stomp" about the Purdue plants in Arkansas and Missouri.

I had a Great Aunt that got Kreutzfeld-Jakobs from eating squirrel brains when she was pregnant some forty years before. The brains were considered a delicacy.

It seems that the word to not work at an American meat processor has gotten out south of the border. The heavy rains of 2018-2019 played Hell with the meat supply.