Will Beef and Pork prices fall soon? It has been a tough couple months for cattle and hog producers enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cattle and hog processing plants shut down, others were running well below normal capacity because so many employees tested positive for COVID-19 or had been exposed and were quarantined. The result was cattle and hog producers had no place for their market ready livestock to be processed. Some had to be euthanized. What a horrible decision for a producer to have to make, disposing of health livestock.

The good news is cattle processing capacity is back right about to the levels we saw before COVID-19. Last week total hog processing capacity was actually just a little above the same week a year ago. That may mean eventually pork and beef prices at the grocery store will begin to decrease. It does seem like it takes a while for food prices at the grocery store to drop. They can increase very quickly but it always takes time to go the other way!

Livestock processing plants quickly began to develop procedures to protect employees when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In addition to additional cleaning and disinfecting all employees had their temperatures checked when they came to the plants. They were asked if they had any symptoms and all had to wear facemasks. In addition plastic shields were installed between employees on production lines. Finally plastic cubicles were installed on the tables in the lunch room.

There is still a backlog of market ready livestock on farms but at least we are moving in the right direction. I was thinking maybe something positive can come from the COVID-19 debacle. The polices and procedures developed will result in the plants being much cleaner than maybe they were pre-COVID-19?