Beef Buzz News
Getting Labor Force Back Online Critical For Packing Plants, says Iowa State's Dr. Lee Schulz
Tue, 12 May 2020 10:00:53 CDT
Packing plants around the country are scrambling to work through the backlog of animals while processing their normal daily numbers. The impact on consumers and farmers is being felt across the board and Dr. Lee Schulz, Iowa State University Extension livestock marketing economist, recently said the biggest challenge is getting the plants’ labor force back online.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes With Lee Schulz
Schulz, who’s state has been significantly hit by the COVID-19 shutdown, noted getting back close to normal production will take some time.
A lot of estimates are we have already backed up at least one week of slaughter for cattle and hogs, Schulz said. The plants need to work through that one week of slaughter while they are still doing the routine daily slaughter.
Schulz said it ultimately comes down to how quickly the plants can get their labor force back to near capacity.
The biggest concern now is how do we get the absenteeism situation resolved, Schulz said.
He noted the plants have made changes to protect workers and to simply meat fabrication to keep the production line moving.
They are taking fewer items down to subprime and keeping less byproducts to maximize chain speed, Schulz said. All of this is short term, he said, until we get the plants up to 85 to 95 percent to work through the backlog.
The Iowa State economist said the slowdown will impact meat exports, which so far have been strong.
January to April exports are up 18 percent, Schulz said, but the outstanding sales for product not delivered, is down 18 percent.
Even though exports may decrease, Schulz said it is important to remember the value of those exports remains strong.
You can hear more comments from Dr. Schulz by clicking on the listen bar below.
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