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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's food supply chain is in trouble because of coronavirus outbreaks in rural meatpacking plant communities.

Why it matters: For consumers, this means less meat at the grocery store. For many farmers, this means the prospect of financial ruin. For many animals, this means euthanasia instead of slaughter.

The big picture: Plants in more than a dozen states have closed in recent weeks, spanning beef, pork, poultry and fish.

  • Many more plants are struggling to remain open despite significant outbreaks.
  • More than 25% of U.S. pork production is now offline because of plant closures, WashPost reports, citing industry analysts.
  • Tyson Foods described this as a "breaking" of the food supply chain, warning on Sunday that millions of animals will need to be killed without being turned into food.

Between the lines: There's also an enormous human toll taking place at these plants.

  • “It is not going to be easy to get workers six feet apart,” William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases, told the N.Y. Times. “If you space people out, you reduce productivity.”

What's next: House Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson told CNN today that he predicts shortages of pork as soon as next week.

  • Peterson estimated that 60,000–70,000 pigs a day will need to be euthanized.
  • If things don't turn around fast, "we are going to see multi­generational, longstanding [hog] farms not get through this financially," Minnesota hog farmer Greg Boerboom told the Star Tribune.

The bottom line: America's farmers have long feared that everyday citizens were clueless about how their food gets made.

  • Unfortunately, it appears that this education is now happening in a flash.

Go deeper: Why the food supply chain has been so slow to pivot

Go deeper

23 seconds ago - Health

A safe, sane survival guide

Photo: Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all know, it’s getting worse.

Reality check: Here are a few things every one of us can do to stay safe and sane in coming months:

Biden’s nightmare debut

President-elect Biden speaks in Wilmington on Nov. 24. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address — virtually — a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.

Using apps to prevent deadly police encounters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.