As leaders warned of US meat shortages, overseas exports of pork and beef continued

As U.S. meat production plummeted in April following a rash of coronavirus outbreaks and closures at processing plants across the country, industry and political leaders sounded an alarm.

Factory closures were “pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Kenneth Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield Foods, the country’s largest pork producer, warned in a public message April 6.

As closures worsened three weeks later, John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, put his name on a full page ad in The Washington Post and The New York Times warning that America’s “food supply chain is breaking.”

“Our plants must remain operational so that we can supply food to our families in America,” Tyson said.

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