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South Dakota's livestock supply chain showing improvements after COVID-19

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Hog farmers across South Dakota are facing pressure to offload animals in any way possible because the COVID-19 pandemic has led to closure of meatpacking plants and reduction of processing capacity by 25% or more. Bart Pfankuch / South Dakota News Watch
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. — Collaboration between South Dakota’s livestock producers and meat processing plants has brought the slaughter capacities somewhat back to normal.

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven said beef industry representatives provided an update on the state’s slaughter capacity and supply chain condition during the annual meeting of the state’s Animal Industry Board in Pierre on Tuesday, July 14.

“Some plants do still have reduced capacity due to current COVID-19 cases within their workforce,” Oedekoven said.

The pandemic is expected to have lasting effects on the state’s live hog supply.

“I think it will be interesting where we’ll be in four to six months with where we are at in the hog inventory,” Oedekoven said.

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“My understanding is that the live hog supply in December and January, before COVID, were rather high anyway. There was anticipation of foreign markets, then all the sudden COVID hit." Sows that would otherwise have been bred were not, and some sows were given abortions, he said.

South Dakota didn’t deal with depopulation of animals as much as other states, Oedevoken said.

“We made a lot of plans in anticipation of large-scale depopulation," he said. "But we really didn't see that in a large degree like other states did. Instead, South Dakota producers found alternative markets through direct sales or moving sales through other markets. It was nice to see that sort of approach rather than a depopulation.”

The state’s total number of COVID-19 positive cases rose to 7,572, up 47 from Monday. There are now 6,599 total recoveries. The number of active cases fell to 864, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. One person was released from the hospital after falling ill with COVID-19 according to Tuesday’s report, while 62 remain hospitalized throughout the state.

The death toll remained at 109.

A total of 786 new tests were reported Tuesday.

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