CEO of JBS: Coronavirus to slow US meat production for months

CEO of JBS: Coronavirus to slow US meat production for months
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The CEO of a Brazilian meat processing company that reported coronavirus outbreaks on its facility lines last month told the Wall Street Journal that the industry as a whole is expecting a slowdown in meat production in the coming months.

“We will not be able to go to full capacity anytime soon as we fight this virus because of all the changes we have implemented,” Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, a unit of the  Brazilian meat conglomerate JBS SA, told the Journal.  

The company slaughters 23 percent of the U.S.'s cattle and produces nearly one-fifth of its pork, according to the Journal.

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Last month, one of its processing plants in Worthington, Minn., had an outbreak of coronavirus. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act in late April to declare the plants “critical infrastructure,” compelling facilities to remain open during the pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueJustice Department investigating meat price increases: report 11,000 coronavirus cases tied to three meat processors: report The looming USDA deadline to guarantee access to school meals MORE said Friday that he does not expect a food shortage like Nogueira is suggesting, adding that workers returning to processing facilities will have increased protections to avoid infection. 

Nogueira told the Journal his company is working with health officials to put in place safety measures as the facilities return to 90 percent capacity.

Representatives from JBS, along with Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods, which also saw outbreaks in their meat packing facilities, were questioned by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.