JBS Remains Open Despite Surge in Cass COVID-19 Numbers

By Benjamin Cox on May 5, 2020 at 5:55am

JBS in Beardstown continues to stay open as the nation becomes gripped with a possible severe meat shortage.

Andrew English of the Cass County Health Department said last week that communication with the plant and the health department remains steady. “We’ve been on the phone with them weekly, sometimes daily to make sure that everything is following best practice to keep everyone safe.”

English says he doesn’t see a communication breakdown coming from JBS. “We expect and have no reason to think that we won’t continue to be in regular communication. We all are doing our best to maintain a good working relationship so we can navigate the situation the best way we can.”

Farmers in Illinois don’t have a supply issue as it does a distribution issue. Plants like JBS are trying to stay open so hogs can be processed instead of slaughtered prior to processing. President Donald Trump took executive action last Tuesday using the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to try to prevent a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat in grocery stores. Many meatpacking plants began to do phased reopening yesterday around the country.

JBS has struggled to maintain operations at all of its facilities around the U.S., as many have been linked to massive outbreaks of the coronavirus.

To date, Cass County has 42 cases of COVID-19 with anonymous sources reporting that more than half have come from the Beardstown plant despite increased safety measures.