Pork industry slowing down dramatically

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 10:39 PM CDT
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The closure of the Sioux Falls Smithfield plant has temporarily led pork producers into unfamiliar territory. Those within the agriculture community say it is unique because a plant of this capacity has not shut down before.

Executive Director Glenn Muller of the South Dakota Pork Producers says 550 producers in the immediate area that depend on Smithfield Foods to harvest their hogs are now making some pivotal decisions to compensate for this temporary loss of production.

"There is no additional capacity to absorb that kind of volume," said Muller. "We're looking at approximately 20,000 head per day if you figure [a] two-week time frame with ten working days in that time frame you're talking 200,000 head of hog."

The agricultural community is relatively close-knit, and the Andersen family is joining the conversation as fellow producers and committee members on what temporary steps to take. Emily and her family were fortunate to take a few loads down to Sioux City, but she worries about the impending damage this can have on the entire industry. It is a personal pain for her after growing up on her family farm and being involved with pork committees.

"What's going on right now is affecting my life because it's been a part of my life," she said.

Executive Director Muller says the disruption of the food chain is concerning, but long term there could be shortfalls in food production which will affect producers and consumers.