Tyson Foods in Logansport is closing for 14 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant. The Indianapolis Star is reporting that 146 employees have tested positive for the virus, leading to the two-week closure.
Tyson is partnering with the Cass County Health Department to provide testing for all of its 2,200+ employees at the plant.
Cass County Commissioners voted to close the plant for 14 days, something that Indiana Farm Bureau Vice President Kendell Culp says is devastating news for Hoosier farmers.
“That’s over 15,000 hogs a day processed through there. I’m told about 60 percent of that 15,000 are Indiana hogs. The question is, where are they going to go? And that’s the question we don’t have an answer for right now. My barns and many other producer’s barns are full of hogs that are market-ready and need to be shipped and no place to go with them.”
Culp, who is a livestock producer who sells to Tyson, says there are just no good answers on what to do next. The industry was struggling even prior to COVID-19.
“You continue to feed these animals thinking, ‘Well, they’re going to find a solution, find a market for us,’ but those pigs and cattle, they keep eating every day. So, that means you keep growing producing more meat, and in the situation we’re in right now, we have an oversupply- an overabundance- of livestock in the country. Our numbers are high and that’s putting pressure on the on the market, irrelevant of COVID.”
There is one potential answer that doesn’t sit well with Culp or any other producer.
“Is euthanasia a possibility? I’m afraid it is.”
The Indiana State Board of Animal Health issued guidance on Wednesday about humane herd-reduction methods. That guidance is below:
BOAH reminds producers animal welfare is a top priority. Animal pens should not be overcrowded, and pigs must continue to be fed appropriately. Herd-reduction methods must be carried out in a humane manner, and carcasses must be disposed of appropriately.
Approved methods for carcass disposal in Indiana include: rendering, burial, incineration and composting. More information online: www.in.gov/boah/2363.htm
The National Pork Board published a Farm Crisis Operations Planning Tool in March. This guide provides guidance on managing swine operations during any crisis that disrupts the pork supply chain.
The Pork Checkoff library has resources for producers including humane euthanasia, carcass disposal and more.
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians has resources for veterinarians and COVID-19 response: www.aasv.org/Resources/publichealth/covid19/index.php
Other Coronavirus-related Resources
BOAH COVID-19 resources: www.in.gov/boah/2905.htm
Indiana State Department of Health: www.coronavirus.in.gov