Another Indiana pork processing facility is closing due to the coronavirus. It’s a move that will place additional pressure on the pork pipeline.
The Indiana Packers Corporation will suspend operations Monday at its Delphi processing facility, according to a letter sent to farmers Friday. It says the move responds to “an increasing number of positive tests of COVID-19 in neighboring communities and reports that Indiana is closing in on the expected peak of infections.”
Currently 15 workers there have confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The action follows a similar decision by Tyson Foods, which closed its Logansport facility earlier this week after more than 100 employees tested positive for coronavirus.
Together, the closures represent a substantial percentage of pork processing capability in Indiana. The impact is significant to farmers as a loss of two main destinations for their mature hogs.
The Indiana Pork Producers estimates 44 percent of all Hoosier pork is processed by the two plants, while the Indiana Farm Bureau pegs the production at close to 70 percent.
Indiana Packers says the closure is not expected to last longer than two weeks. Employees working directly with the plant will be paid, but many farmers will be left searching for a place to send their hogs.
Producers are bracing for short-term struggles. The two facilities are the largest in Indiana.
Brian Martin is one of them.
“At the moment, what we’re going to have to focus on is taking care of our business and our pigs and our people,” said Martin, a hog farmer and owner of Martin Family Farmers. “There are long term effects that we’re going to have to deal with down the road.”
Martin is optimistic he and other producers will weather the storm. He understands his industry is one of many affected.
The Indiana Farm Bureau estimates there will be 500,000 mature hogs unable to be processed.
In a statement, IPC says they plan to conduct additional cleaning and will “restart operations as soon as possible.”