From Wisconsin Public Radio, efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in meat-packing facilities is hurting Wisconsinites on a broad scale. The initial piece by WPR features an interview with Dan Schaefer, an emeritus professor on animal studies at UW-Madison. Here’s how Schaefer broke down the issue:
“(Farmers) are taking a beating. Once they do have a place to harvest these animals, if they are beef-breed steers and heifers, they are probably worth now about two-thirds what they were worth six weeks ago.
The price that retailers pay to wholesalers is at an all-time high. So the cost of these meat products, beef products in the grocery store will be elevated. At the same time, the value of the raw material, that is the pre-harvest animals, is approaching lows we haven’t seen in 25 years.
If one thinks about a fruit item or a vegetable item having a shelf life, like a tomato — a tomato can only be displayed for a certain period of time and then it begins to lose condition — well, pigs have a relatively short shelf life.”
In another piece by WPR, you can see the raw numbers of cases that are hitting meat-packing and food processing plants across the state: “According to the Brown County Health Department, as of April 28, there are 255 confirmed cases among employees at JBS Packerland in Green Bay, with 79 linked cases. American Foods Group in Green Bay has 145 confirmed cases among employees, with seven linked cases.”
The plants, their employees and all of those who consume their products are in a tough spot with no obvious solution. You can read the full statements made by Dan Schaefer and others here.