Even as the outbreak began to force plants to temporarily close last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continued granting permission to chicken processors to boost speeds by 25% on production lines.
A week before JBS idled its Worthington pork plant, it was clear that meatpacking plants had become clusters of the virus. But until April 20, JBS was running the plant, which can slaughter as many as 21,000 hogs a day, at full tilt. JBS has made strides since shutting down, but workers say it was slow to react
Tens of thousands of pigs have been euthanized in Minnesota in recent weeks thanks to the shutdowns of meatpacking plants after outbreaks of coronavirus among workers. The site where euthanized hogs are ground into compost in Nobles County is a wide open field across the road from a lakeside vineyard.