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Disturbing photos show mounds of carcasses as US meat farms are forced to kill millions of pigs amid pandemic

About 170,000 pigs per day cannot be sent to plants and there is not enough space to accommodate them at the farms
UPDATED MAY 15, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pig farmers have bemoaned how they will have to euthanize more than 10 million hogs by mid-September in a bid to avoid overcrowding as meat processing plants are shut amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, about 170,000 pigs per day cannot be sent to plants and there is not enough space to accommodate them at the farms.

The trade organization claims that the decision to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs in the coming months is "the only humane option" considering the animals grow large very quickly in confined spaces and can become aggressive with each other. Disturbing photos of thousands of dead pigs euthanized at the JBS USA processing plant in Minnesota recently surfaced, after the entire plant was shut down owing to employees testing positive for coronavirus. You can see the photos here.

Covid-19 outbreaks among workers since the start of April has led to the closure of almost all meatpacking plants across the United States. This has severely impacted major food companies including JBS USA Holdings, Cargill, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods.

According to CBS News, there have been more than 14,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in 181 meat processing plants across the country, resulting in the deaths of 54 workers. Due to this, more than 40 percent of America's pork manufacturing and packaging capacity has been idled.

The JBS pork processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota, was forced to euthanize thousands of healthy pigs that were originally scheduled to be sent for processing. The Worthington Plant processes at least four percent of the nation's pork, per the report, but has now been shut down after more than 200 of its 2,000 employees tested positive for coronavirus.

Farmers haven't been able to bring their pigs to get processed due to the plant's closure, leaving them with no other choice but to humanely euthanize thousands of their precious market-weight hogs. The bodies of thousands of pigs have already been left rotting on compost heaps as they are disposed of by slaughterhouses following euthanization.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of animals that are already in queue to be destroyed, with CoBank estimating that a staggering 7 million animals may have to be euthanized just for the current quarter. This means consumers would be losing roughly a billion pounds of meat around this time.

According to a report by Bloomberg, rendering plants are now witnessing a greater number of hogs being turned into usable commodities like sausage casings and gelatin. And while American consumers have seen supply shortages in grocery stores across the country, meat exports to China have reportedly quadrupled.

Bloomberg notes that the culling effort is the largest ever on record.

That said, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for pig farmers after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on April 28 allowing meat processing plants to remain open. The said order invokes the Defense Production Act and classifies meat processing plants as critical infrastructure, thereby preventing a shortage of various meats on supermarket shelves.