“The food supply chain is breaking,” wrote board chairman John Tyson in a full-page advertisement published Sunday in The New York Times, Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
US farmers don’t have anywhere to sell their livestock, he said, adding that “millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities.”
“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” Tyson wrote.
The Waterloo plant closure came after weeks of public pressure. Production had already slowed there because many of its 2,800 workers had been calling out sick, and local health authorities linked the Tyson plant to 182 cases — nearly half of the county’s total.
Asked by CNN about those claims, Tyson Foods said that plants were sanitized daily. And Tyson, the chairman, wrote in Sunday’s advertisement that the company has taken steps to protect its workers, including taking their temperatures and requiring face masks in all of its facilities. He added that the company is paying out bonuses to frontline workers and truckers, as well as donating food in local communities.
Some of the country’s largest abattoirs (processing plants or slaughterhouses) have been forced to cease operations temporarily after thousands of employees across the country have tested positive for the virus.
— Dianne Gallagher, Pamela Kirkland and Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.