One of the first packing plants in the US looks to temporarily reduce production for the safety of it’s employees due to COVID-19. An extension specialist with Cornell University has relayed that the JBS processing facility in Souderton, PA will reduce production at end of business today (March 30th), due to confirmation of 2 COVID-19 cases. According to the source the plant will reassess the situation in two weeks. It is not known where in the plant the employees worked.
The plant continues both fabrication and ground beef operations.
The Extension Specialist also urged that COVID-19 is non transmissible in meat so all products from the plant will be safe for consumption.
Brad Kooima of Kooima, Kooima & Varilek told Rural Radio Network Farm Director Susan Littlefield that the Sauderton plant is a small swing plant that may process fed cattle and cull cattle depending on supply and demand. The plant is located near Philadelphia and that’s where a majority of it’s workforce comes from. “While this is not one of the major plants” Kooima said, “it will have ripple effects in the industry.”
Cargill in Wyalusing is still buying cattle but only cull cows and bulls, no fat cattle at this time.
JBS issued the following statement on the reduction :
The JBS Souderton, Penn., beef production facility has temporarily reduced production because several senior management team members have displayed flu-like symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, these team members have been sent home to self-monitor their health in light of the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). We anticipate the facility will return to normal operations on April 14, 2020.
We wish our team members a speedy recovery and salute the health care professionals who are tirelessly working to protect us all. We also thank our team members and everyone who is helping to keep food on tables during this challenging time.