Smithfield Foods closure impacting those in the hog business

Local News

NUNDA, S.D. (KELO) – It’s now been a little over a week since the plant shut down indefinitely due to the number of coronavirus cases. So how is that impacting hog operations in South Dakota?

Clint Overskei has been farming for about 20 years.

“We get our pigs through Pipestone System and then we have probably about a dozen or so neighbors that help us in the finishing process,” farmer, Clint Overskei said.

COVID-19 is presenting challenges for everyone, including pork producers. Overskei says about 90% of their hogs go to the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls.

“The next couple weeks we’d probably be taking a couple thousand a week there,” Overskei said.

With the Smithfield plant closed and others full, that doesn’t leave a lot of options for those in the hog business.

Overskei says they’ve started feeding their pigs a different diet.

“A lot of producers are going to lower energy diets, higher fiber, trying to reduce the feed intake that the pigs are eating everyday,” Overskei said. “It’s not a forever solution, it might buy us a couple weeks, maybe a month.”

Which is why he hopes to see the plant back open soon.

“I guess everybody is trying to do the best they can, and we are trying to manage the growth of our pigs here, they are trying to manage the health of their people there, but it’s just a struggle for all of us,” Overskei said.

Overskei says with the plant closures, the average pig farmer is losing about $45 a head for every animal that was supposed to go to market.

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