— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on April 29, 2020, Wednesday.
Trump is said to be planning to sign an executive order on Tuesday using the Defense Production Act to ensure that all beef, chicken, pork and egg related plants remain open and provide protection for those involved.
Trump mentioned the plan in a meeting with Florida's governor and said he was working with tyson foods, the country's largest meat processor, which has just taken out full-page ads in several media outlets warning of the risk of disruption to the food supply chain.
We're working with Tyson,we are gonna sign an executive order today, i believe, and that will solve any liability problems, we will be in a very good shape/ There's plenty of supply/ It was a very unique circumstance because of liability.
More than a dozen major meat plants in the United States have been closed as a result of the outbreak, among them, pork is the most affected. Meat industry officials estimate that U.S. pork production is down 20 percent and beef production is down 10 percent. And White House officials say they fear that up to 80 percent of meat production could be shut down without executive action.
Meat plant closures also cause food waste and big losses for farmers recently, US farmers were forced to dispose of an increasing number of pigs because they could not get to processing plants on time.
Another 1.5m pigs are expected to be slaughtered or buried in the coming weeks. In addition, farmers are taking various measures to reduce the number of livestock. The either have no space to put the livestock or cannot afford to feed them, or both. A farmer in IOWA recently decided to give pregnant sows an injection that caused them to abort. A farmer in Minnesota also had to euthanize 61,000 chickens. The farmers say they have no choice. In addition to the United States, Canada in North America and Brazil in South America have all recently closed meat plants because of the outbreak. A chicken processing plant of JBS, in southern Brazil, was shut down by local authorities last Friday after an outbreak of mass contamination.
The United States, Brazil and Canada together account for about 65 percent of the global meat trade. The closure of some meat plants in those countries has raised warning signs of a shortage of international supplies, but there are other factors that could weaken the warnings.
First, America's stock of cold storage provides a buffer. In addition, production and supply in Australia and New Zealand, also major meat exporters, remained stable. So even with the plant closures, JBS, the world's largest meat processor, says it can use spare capacity in Brazil and Australia to increase exports to the United States. In addition, India resumed exporting major agricultural products, including meat, on April 15, responding to import demand in parts of Asia.
But one risk not to be ignored is that JBS executives point out that the US has just 15 days' worth of inventory. In this way, the use of Defence Production Act may be a necessary response to prevent the meat crisis from turning from a warning into a reality. We will keep an eye on this issue.