by: Steve Moeller, Department of Animal Sciences, State Swine Extension Specialist
Like many livestock sectors, the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s and the Nation’s swine industry have been multi-factorial and ever-changing. In response, the National Pork Board has maintained an on-line COVID-19 information center at https://www.pork.org/ which is updated multiple times per day based on new findings. The impact is now being felt as the number of ‘short-term’ packing plant closures seem to increase daily. Plant closures will impact the industry as a whole in a number of ways, namely: 1) U.S. production is matching packing plant capacity and both are at record levels, thus a regional lack of shackle space will likely occur, 2) Swine production is now nearly constant, centered around weekly flow and optimization of space utilization, thus pig spaces are full and need to be continually emptied to make room for incoming production, 3) Distribution channels from packing plants to consumers are not as efficient, leading to challenges in managing product movement from the packer to the consumer. Additional plant closures, particularly if they occur from Indiana eastward will place a significant burden directly on the producer; 4) The bright spot: Export markets have helped offset some of the supply, particularly trade with traditional partners in Japan and Mexico, but with added sales to China.