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Iowa Select Farms expanding finishing capacity after supply chain disaster

Iowa Select Farms, the fourth-largest pork producer in the U.S., says it is recovering from meat supply chain interruptions that forced it to euthanize thousands of pigs as packing plants were closed or running at lower capacity when workers became ill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meatpacking plants have recovered much more quickly than anticipated and are operating at more than 90% capacity today, says communications director Jen Sorensen. “This helps tremendously in alleviating the backlog of pigs on the farms.”

Iowa Select Farms recently secured leased finishing space with capacity for 60,000 pigs and is expediting plans to complete 17 new finishing farms in the next 12 weeks, all of which will increase its holding capacity significantly, she says. “In addition, we have deployed a nutrition strategy that is effectively slowing the weight gain of pigs, ensuring that they will not exceed the limits for safe processing.” 

The meatpacking plant recovery and efforts by Iowa Select Farms has allowed it to discontinue the euthanization of market-ready hogs by way of Ventilation Shutdown Plus, which was necessitated by the constrained circumstances caused by COVID-19’s impact on the food chain, explains Sorensen.

“The situation is fluid, yet we are cautiously optimistic that we will never again have to face a difficult decision like we had to face last month, even as COVID-19 continues to be a factor in our industry. We remain appreciative of the men and women working at meatpacking plants who are keeping the lines running and a steady supply of pork on grocery shelves. We are incredibly grateful to the hardworking team at Iowa Select Farms who have faced many challenges this year with grace and grit. This is a bright spot in an otherwise very difficult last few months. No producer wants to have to make some of the decisions we have had to make.”

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