North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens over coronavirus

Farmers in North Carolina are being forced to euthanize 1.5 million chickens following outbreaks of the novel coronavirus at meat processing plants across the state, an official has revealed.

The mass euthanization due to coronavirus-related staffing shortages marks the first time during the pandemic that Tar Heel state farmers have had to kill their animals, Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer last week.

About one-third of the 1.5 million chickens have already been euthanized, Reardon said. He did not share in which counties the animals are being killed, describing it instead as “farm specific.”


There are about 170 million to 190 million chickens and turkeys in North Carolina, Reardon said.

Across North Carolina, 2,006 workers in 26 processing plants have tested positive for COVID-19, agriculture officials said on Thursday, per The Associated Press. Amid the ongoing outbreak, processing plant workers and their advocates have argued that the meat industry was slow to provide personal protective equipment and take other proactive health safety measures in the fight against the viral disease.

Describing depopulation as a true “last resort” for farmers, Reardon explained that “the continued lack of processing capacity over a long period of time with this ‘just in time’ process that we have on animal production, puts us in this very untenable situation.”

The just-in-time supply chain inventory strategy used by the American meat industry keeps processing and production on a tight schedule, moving meat from the farm to the factory, then on to the processing plant and distributors, just as it is needed by supermarkets and other food service vendors.

Though President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in late April to keep meat processing plants open through the COVID-19 crisis, outbreaks of the viral disease have shuttered some plants and slowed operations at others.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, chicken and hog farmers in other states also allegedly euthanized millions of animals, the Associated Press reports. In April, a Delaware-based chicken company was said to have started depopulating up to 2 million chickens due to coronavirus-related staffing shortages. Earlier this month, the National Pork Producers Council warned that farmers will have to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs by the middle of September to avoid overcrowding in their facilities, due to a bottleneck in the supply chain.

North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens over coronavirus North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens over coronavirus Reviewed by Anson Moore on May 26, 2020 Rating: 5

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