Processing capacity has a positive outlook, but short-term issues need to be addressed
Many meat industry experts have a positive outlook on the U.S. processing capacity going forward. Though new facilities are under construction and set to go online within the next couple of years, it does not necessarily address short-term issues.
For example, the ongoing drought covering the nation’s cattle-producing states could factor into less availability of supplies, and then there is the labor shortage.
According to Lee Reinchmuth with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, “The capacity between a Monday and a Friday is about maxed out, and so, the extra cattle that you need to get slaughtered is getting made up on Saturdays. And the problem is, when you get your help to show up on Saturdays, they want two-day weekends and then they’re not showing up on Mondays. So, they’ve raised wages, they’ve done various other things, provide health, doctors on-site, doing things like that to entice people to work.”
The association says that there will likely be no more facilities that handle 5,000-6,000 head of cattle. The newer ones will be smaller, holding around 1,500.