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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

U.S. companies exported a record 129,000 tons of pork to China in April, even as meat producers warned that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic would deplete the industry's supply chain, the New York Times reports, citing data from Panjiva.

Why it matters: U.S. consumers had to deal with meat shortages as many meatpacking plants became coronavirus hot spots. The industry lobbied the Trump administration to intervene to reverse plant closures mandated by local and state officials.

  • Yet despite their public warnings of an impending shortage, meatpackers did not disclose "that keeping the plants open would also protect their long-term investments in exporting to a country that is vital to their growth," according to the Times.
  • Since the outbreak began, 25,523 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, while 89 have died, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

What they're saying: “As long as our nation’s harvest facilities continue to operate, not only do we have enough meat to feed Americans, but also to feed the world,” Smithfield Foods, one of the largest meat producers, said in a statement to the Times.

  • Smithfield said the meat it exported in April was ordered and processed months before the pandemic. But much of that meat, the Times points out, could have still stocked shelves in April and May.
  • The company added that “much of what is exported are items that attract little or no interest from domestic consumers."

The bottom line: “The meat companies were saying the sky was falling, and it really wasn’t,” Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist at Food & Water Watch, told the Times.

  • “It wasn’t that there was not enough supply. It was that the supply was being sent abroad.”

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Sep 23, 2020 - Health

Poll: 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Americans' political affiliations could determine which source they trust for information about the coronavirus, with 51% of Republicans saying they trust President Trump over CDC scientists, according to a Quinnipiac poll out Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's another indication of how partisan politics have consumed the national conversation about the virus, and how Trump's attacks on his own health officials have affected public opinion.