At the store yesterday, I mentioned to an employee who was stocking the meat cases (such as they are) that the meat seems to be getting sparse.
He said “yep.”
This isn’t a matter of people hording. They’ve already got “limit two” notices for meats. This is because new stocks are just not coming in.
As the Chairman of Tyson Foods has warned, the food supply chain is breaking. Processing plants are shutting down due to Coronavirus fears. Dropping production capacity means that those raising livestock have nowhere to sell their stock and they can’t afford to keep feeding them, so livestock is being slaughtered and just dumped (Example here).
And folk smuggly saying that we eat too much (any) meat anyway, well, vegetable and grain production is similarly being hit and hit hard. (And that’s leaving aside that a vegetarian, let alone vegan, diet would be death to a person like me who needs to be aggressively low carb to remain healthy.)
One would think that anything related to food production and distribution would count as an “essential industry” if anything was but so far as the government shutdowns are concerned. While I can understand the concern about spreading disease consider the workers at a Kentucky meat processing plant:
The existing protocols to prevent contamination of the meat means that workers are dressed from head to toe in protective gear. They are gloved and masked as a matter of course. While this particular image does not show it, in others that I have seen at least in some places they wear face shields. You couldn’t ask for better precautions to prevent the spread of disease within the plant itself. I’ve seen hospital medical workers less protected.
To be blunt, even in the worst of pandemics our food production and distribution is not just as important as medical care. It’s more important. People need to eat far more often than they need to go to the doctor. Those people in that picture are every bit as essential as the doctors and nurses at your local hospital. Without them, and myriad others like them, it soon won’t matter what the doctors and nurses do.
Unless immediate steps are taken to restore food production and distribution, then we are going to have serious shortages in the coming months and into next year at least. It may already be too late to avoid that. And that’s here in the US. The US is the largest exporter of food in the world. If the US has shortages, immense political pressure will be made to curtail those exports in favor of feeding our own people at home. Expect the same in other major food exporting nations such as Germany and the UK.
Food shortages here will turn into famine worldwide one, as the UN puts it, of ‘biblical proportions‘. (Never thought Ghostbusters would be prophetic)
So buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.