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Indiana Pork Processing Plant Shutdown Due To COVID-19 Hurts Hoosier Farmers

Samantha Horton
IPB News


Tyson Foods is temporarily closing its pork processing facility in Indiana after employees there tested positive for the coronavirus. The shutdown will be felt throughout the agricultural industry in the state.

The National Pork Producers Council estimates losses of at least $5 billion to hog producers due to supply market disruptions from COVID-19.

Tyson Foods said in a statement the plant in Logansport is temporarily shutting down production and will begin testing the more than 2,000 employees working at the facility.

The facility is one of the 15 largest pork processing plants in the U.S. that, combined, produce about 60 percent of the pork in the country. The temporary shutdown comes after workers tested positive for the virus. It joins a growing list of locations across the country halting production and reducing demand for hogs.

Jayson Lusk, head of the Purdue University agricultural economics department, says the slowdown will drop prices for hogs and hurt producers.

“It really creates a disruption in the system and as a consequence of the packers not taking the hogs, they don’t need as many; they can’t take as many; that tends to have a depressing effect on prices.” Lusk says.

He says the shutdown will cut demand for hogs and be felt throughout the agriculture industry in the state including corn and soybean farmers.

“So if profitability is falling for raising hogs, that’s gonna mean that you can’t pay as much or may choose to do something different than buying as much feed as you might otherwise,” says Lusk. “So it has repercussions across the board for all of Indiana agriculture.”

After shutting down briefly Monday to deep clean the facility, Tyson will voluntarily close operations later this week for 14 days.

Indiana ranks fifth in the U.S. for pork production.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Last month, we welcomed Samantha Horton to our station. She is Indiana Public Broadcasting reporter, mainly reporting on business and economic issues in the States of Indiana for WBAA. After graduated from Evansville University with a triple majors degree (International studies, Political science and Communication), Samantha worked for a Public Radio at Evansville for three years, and then she joined WBAA because she wanted to take a bigger role on reporting. So far she enjoyed working in WBAA as business and economy reporter.