USDA’s Economic Research Service says the impact of COVID-19 on processing rates was short-lived in the largest pork-producing region.
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska compose the largest hog processing region in the United States, where more than 40 percent of all U.S. hogs are processed. The region is also home to more large and medium-sized processing plants than other regions.
In the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, March-May 2020, the region experienced a 40 percent decline in hog slaughter compared with rates during the same period in 2019.
Labor shortages attributed to COVID-19 infections among workers resulted in slow production and temporary shutdowns at large processing plants for about ten weeks. However, when looking at hog slaughter and reported COVID-19 cases for the entire year, slaughter increased even as cases of infection also increased.
From June 2020 through the end of December 2020, weekly slaughter rates were generally on par with 2019 levels.