Former JLF regulatory expert Daren Bakst looks into COVID-19’s impact on American supplies of meat. He publishes his findings with the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.

Many Americans are rightfully concerned about the status of the country’s meat supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to help address those concerns, and the situation is constantly changing. …

… Q: In general, do we have a food shortage?

A: According to both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. isn’t facing a food shortage.

Even though Americans might be seeing empty grocery shelves, that is generally a logistics and inventory problem, not a reflection of food shortages.

The coronavirus has drastically disrupted the food supply chain. In fact, rapid changes to the demand for certain foods resulted in surpluses, rather than shortages. …

… As for the current concerns regarding the meat supply, there is an additional—and more pressing—problem due to disruptions in meat slaughtering and packing facilities.

Q: Why are there concerns over the meat supply?

A: Some meat-processing plants are closing or reducing their operations due to coronavirus illnesses, affecting the beef, pork, and poultry industries. There has also been a reported 20 workers from meat-processing facilities who have died due to the coronavirus.

Major companies such as Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods have been closing plants. Tyson Foods published a widely reported advertisement in several newspapers expressing serious concern about the meat supply.

One reported estimate asserts that pork slaughter capacity has been reduced by 25% and beef slaughter capacity by 10%.

Q: What does that mean for consumers?

A: There appears to be significant agreement among experts that there will be meat-supply disruptions, but that doesn’t mean meat won’t be available.

Within the next few weeks, it’s likely that some meat availability, though, will be reduced and prices will increase.

Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.