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Labor shortage concerns increase in wake of coronavirus outbreak

The US pork industry is concerned the coronavirus pandemic could exacerbate an already severe labor shortage on farms and in packing plants.

Economist Joe Kerns, president of Iowa-based Kerns & Associates, says the labor shortage already has packing plants running at reduced capacity.  “If we start to combine that with some absenteeism that might be associated with the coronavirus, or forbid we might introduce it into one of these facilities that would delay their operations and lead to some type of shutdown for cleanup, certainly that all cascades back down to the producer level,” he says.

The National Pork Producers Council has sent a letter to federal and state officials asking them to find solutions to lessen the impact on the industry. 

NPPC president AV Roth says they’d like solutions for more and expedited worker visas and for the administration to develop support plans for pig farmers impacted in the supply chain.

AUDIO: Joe Kerns, Kerns & Associates

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