JBS, one of the world’s largest meatpackers, continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, news broke of its plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, limiting production due to senior staff members having flu-like symptoms. Now there are positive cases tied to the JBS packing plant in Grand Island, Nebraska.
NTV News reports that the Grand Island mayor confirmed 10 JBS employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
From NTV News:
Mayor Roger Steele said he learned of the positive cases from Health Director Teresa Anderson.
He said 10 of Grand Island’s 33 confirmed cases are at the plant.
“That is concerning to me… we have to take measures to flatten the rising curve,” Steele said.
He said he has been in contact with Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief of staff, and has raised issues with state health officials.
JBS has been deemed an essential workplace, because of its role in red meat production.
Rural Radio Network Market Anchor Clay Patton says this news could be especially negative for the cattle market.
“If the plant were to idle or limit production this could send shockwaves through an already declining cattle market,” Patton said. “The cattle market is in a bearish territory with a more than 20% decline in recent weeks.”
June live cattle futures closed at 80.85 down 2.22 or 2.68% on Friday. Junes contract high was set January 10 at 119.90. That means the contract has lost 32.5%.
LINCOLN — Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association issued statements expressing confidence in the state’s food supply chain.
“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers help feed the world,” said Governor Ricketts. “We have a very secure supply chain, and we are examining steps to ensure that products move quickly. Nebraskans should make sure they have their prescription medications, and two weeks of food and water on hand. As Nebraskans heed calls to prepare for coronavirus, we know that some products are being purchased faster than they can be restocked. Please be patient as our business owners work around the clock to keep operations moving.”
“Grocery stores are open for business,” said Kathy Siefken, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association. “While some food products are being purchased faster than they can be restocked, there is no food shortage. Grocery stores receive multiple trucks every day to restock the food items that have been sold. Warehouses are full of food. There is a shortage of paper products and household chemicals and the supply chain continues to work on these issues. There is no food shortage but there is a lag time between shelves being cleared by consumers and trucks delivering food the next day.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, met with Secretary Perdue and the entire Nebraska congressional delegation at the Department of Agriculture to discuss challenges to Nebraska agriculture.
“We just spent an hour talking about Nebraska agriculture with Secretary Perdue,” said Senator Sasse. “We let the Agriculture Secretary know that nobody out hustles Nebraska farmers, and we talked about some of the ways we can give predictability to these families as they slog through everything from disaster applications to bizarre environmental red tape. We gave the Department of Agriculture an unvarnished look at the challenges we’ve got and the Secretary committed to partnering with us on some important priorities.”
During the meeting, Sasse and the Nebraska delegation thanked the Secretary of Agriculture for beginning the sign up for sugar beet producers impacted by the canal collapse in July 2019 and early frost in October 2019. Sugar beet producers are eligible for disaster assistance under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP Plus) and sign up begins March 23. This is an important resource for sugar beet growers in western Nebraska that were hit hard by disasters.
Sasse and the delegation relayed concerns from Nebraska farmers who are going into the 2020 crop year facing excessive moisture still in the ground from the 2019 floods and a lack of irrigation following 2019’s irrigation canal collapse.
Sasse and the delegation asked the Department of Agriculture to ease environment restrictions on Nebraska farmers who face delays in completing post-flood restoration work because of bureaucratic environmental red tape. We want our farmers to get in the fields as planting season will start soon.
WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is holding various recruitment events in Nebraska in March to hire food safety inspectors.
FSIS is the agency responsible for protecting the public’s health by ensuring the safety of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry and processed egg products. Inspectors account for the largest category of employees in the agency, with over 7,500 nationwide. They play a critical role in protecting public health by inspecting all FSIS-regulated products before they can be sold to consumers.
At the recruitment events, potential candidates will have an opportunity to apply and receive assistance with the USAJOBS application process.
When: Tuesday, March 3 to Wednesday, March 4, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Kearney Public Library, 2020 1st Ave., Kearney, Nebraska 68847.
When: Thursday, March 5 to Friday, March 6, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Nebraska Department of Labor – Columbus Career Center, 3100 23rd St., Suite 22, Columbus, Nebraska 68601.