The good news: beef and pork slaughter numbers have increased significantly over the past few weeks and have returned to levels seen pre-COVID and comparable to a year ago. The bad news: the backlog of animals to be processed remains, getting heavier each day.
The bottom line according to the Daily Livestock Report (DLR): “it will likely take several months to work off the backlog.” DLR says ongoing Saturday processing will be needed, and perhaps an occasional Sunday, to make up for the slowdown. The economics would seem to incent increasing slaughter numbers. Packer gross margins are high, and workers probably want to work to make up for income lost during the stoppages, but workers will also need to feel safe in the workplace. For livestock producers, cattle and hog prices will continue to be under pressure as long as the backlog remains.
Source: Livestock Marketing Information Center, printed in Daily Livestock Report, Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc. June 15, 2020