NC farmers euthanizing 1.5 million chickens as COVID-19 pandemic hits processing plants

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina agriculture official said Saturday about 500,000 chickens had been euthanized at farms throughout the state because of production issues at processing plants stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joe Reardon, North Carolina Assistant Agriculture Commissioner, told CBS 17 Saturday farmers will need to euthanize a total of 1.5 million chickens following COVID-19 outbreaks at various plants.

A Tyson Foods plant in Wilkesboro had 570 workers test positive for COVID-19 last week. The plant, which has 2,244 workers, was shut down earlier this month for several days.

Reardon said despite the closure this is the first time during the coronavirus pandemic farmers euthanized animals.

WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, reported earlier this month there were outbreaks at 23 North Carolina meat processing plants.

Among the plants were 1,340 total positive cases of COVID-19.

Reardon told CBS 17 Saturday 26 plants are now affected in North Carolina with 2,006 workers testing positive for the coronavirus.

Some chicken producers in the state have held various bulk chicken sales to help move the product while restaurants were closed.

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