July 3, 2020 / 7:26 AM / a month ago

German pig farmers suffer after abattoir's closure

HAMBURG, July 3 (Reuters) - German pig farming is being disrupted by the closure of one of the country’s largest slaughterhouses after a coronavirus outbreak, an industry association said on Friday.

Some 600,000 people in Guetersloh in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia were forced back into lockdown on June 23 after more than 1,500 workers at the Toennies slaughterhouse and meat processing plant tested positive for COVID-19.

The Toennies plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck in North Rhine-Westphalia normally slaughters and processes between 12% to 14% of Germany’s pigs and is an important part of Germany’s pork industry, the Association of German pig farmers said. A date for the plant’s reopening has not yet been announced.

“Each week of the plant’s closure is forcing about 100,000 pigs to remain on farms even though they are ready to be slaughtered,” said the association. “The pig farmers are the victims of the plant’s closure.”

The outbreak at the meat processing plant has sparked a debate about standards in Germany’s food industry and its reliance on migrant labour, particularly from Romania.

Virus outbreaks at meat packing plants in the United States have also disrupted pig farming. (Reporting by Michael Hogan;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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