How COVID-19 affects cattle harvest

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 2:42 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The food industry is seeing a loss of meat production due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could lead to a shortage of beef at your dinner table.

“Hopefully this is a short-term issue that we can work through. But unfortunately, it’s going to take more time,” said Bruce Mershon, owner of Mershon Cattle in Kansas City, Mo.

He said the cattle harvest industry is taking a significant loss due to COVID-19.

“We are the ones who are getting impacted by the problems with the harvesting the cattle. The packing plants are running at a reduced capacity about 20 percent. And they have now for three weeks in a row nationwide. And those cattle numbers continue to build.”

Mershon said soon there will be weeks of cattle backed up. He said they’ll be behind and will slow down the amount of beef that’s processed, impacting the amount of meat you will see on store shelves.

“Whether you are in the cattle business or you are in the pork, swine business, or chickens or turkeys, Everyone is trying to slow the growth and spread it out, but not destroy our infrastructure so that we make sure we have the product ready for the consumer," he said.

He said the public can help the cattle harvesting industry by continuing to eat more beef.

“We need a demand for the product. We are providing a good quality product and we think it gets better every year and every day. And we hope that the consumer enjoys it.”

Last week, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union reported more than 5,000 meat and food processing workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 and 13 have died since the pandemic struck.

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