When I think of international supply chains, shipping, and trade, the last place on my mind is the state of Iowa – or any of the heartland states within the U.S. Still, this article includes commentary by Victor Restis, president, Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A., opened my eyes a bit. Caught in our bubbles, we tend to forget about the world at large and how the effects of COVID-19 affect our lives in ways we didn’t think about.
We know COVID-19 is horrible. And Restis points out that that the virus virtually stopped all business and economies, at least for a short time. Still, even that short time has been devastating in product loss and monies associated with it. For Iowa, the article says that Iowa’s pork industry lost more than $2 billion; the beef industry, $700 million; corn, nearly $800 million; and soybeans, more than $200 million. That is a lot of agriculture that can not be recouped.
The article goes on to say there was a point where pigs were being euthanized because of the clog in operations. I don’t understand. Why couldn’t they simply wait for the packing plants to re-open, then process the livestock? Was the clog that bad? I suppose when you consider the number of people that contracted the virus or were under stay-at-home orders, there wasn’t enough to run the livestock processing plants.
I don’t remember pork being hard to get at the grocery store, but then again, I didn’t venture out too much unless it was necessary. It is unnerving to think that Iowa, the fourth-largest pork producer in the United States, experienced such hardship during the early days of the virus. Not just for the money lost, but pork makes up a considerable part of our food chain, and I wouldn’t want to think about a day when food scarcity becomes a problem. It breaks my heart to know there are places in the world struggling to feed its populations, and even in the U.S., there are kids that go to bed hungry every night.
Thankfully, the Iowan farming industry is back on track and heading toward full capacity. The article says the industry took advantage of the downtime to assess its current processes and potential weak points in production and supply chain. For this, I am further thankful and hope they’ve found new, innovative ways to strengthen this critical industry.
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