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Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. farmers and food companies are decreasing production as the coronavirus lockdown disrupts the agriculture supply chain and demands from restaurants and schools has dwindled, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: COVID-19 is further straining an already-stressed industry as farmers have watched nearby dairies shut down following declines in milk consumption, low prices and trade disputes, the WSJ writes. As producers are stuck with product they can't sell, the industry's reaction to the virus outbreak could impact prices for months to come.

The state of play: Production cutbacks have emerged even as demand from grocery stores has skyrocketed. Farmers can't easily repurpose products meant for restaurants and schools because they require different packaging and labels.

  • Producers have 10% more milk than can be used, and because the product is perishable, they have no choice but to toss it — to the tune of roughly 7% of all milk produced in the last week, the WSJ reports.
    • National milk marketing cooperative Dairy Farmers of America says it will continue to pay its members for dumped milk, however checks will be trimmed.
    • Earlier this week, two dairy industry groups sent a “milk crisis plan” to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking for supportive measures such as paying farms that cut production and purchasing dairy for use in the nation’s feeding programs.
  • Meanwhile, chicken companies are condensing their flocks to curb supply and throwing out chicken-hatching eggs.
  • Pork bellies are also being rendered into lard, rather than bacon.

The bottom line: “When you have panic in the marketplace, weird things happen,” Tanner Ehmke, who researches agricultural markets for farm lender CoBank, told the WSJ.

Go deeper: Farmworkers risk coronavirus to keep supermarkets stocked with fresh food

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
59 mins ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

1 hour ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

3 hours ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

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