UNDATED (LEARFIELD) – State officials say COVID outbreaks at the Smithfield and J-B-S plants have reduced processing capacity for Minnesota hogs by more than 50 percent —  meaning producers can’t get 100- to 200-thousand hogs processed per week.

Ag Commissioner Thom (TOM) Petersen says some hogs and chickens have been euthanized.

“It’s a tremendous impact. It’s very difficult for our farmers, for our farm communities,” said Petersen. “The decision to euthanize animals is not done easily and it’s very emotional.”

Petersen says there’s a lot of product in storage but consumers can expect supply disruptions at times and possibly higher prices.

Petersen says to deal with a shortage of available processors, farmers are reducing pigs’ diets to delay when they’re ready for market, and also holding hogs on farms longer.

And he says Willmar-based Jennie-O is diverting turkeys to other plants.