After virus crippled supply chain, Pa. poultry farmers adapt to new demands

Mark Abrams
May 26, 2020 - 11:04 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania chicken farms were forced to euthanize tens of thousands of birds due to an economic downfall and a break in the supply chain.

The industry is continuing to adjust to meet demands — wherever and whatever they are.

Chris Herr, executive vice president of PennAg Industries Association, which represents poultry farmers, said the industry pulled back and refocused its sales efforts to almost just grocery stores — a drastic change for farmers.

“The change from the food service, institutional needs, which really stopped to the almost 100% retail need,” Herr said, “changing on a dime, that supply system was a bit of a challenge.”

Poultry processing plants had to close for weeks at a time after workers became ill with COVID-19.

Since then, Herr said the facilities underwent massive sanitizing operations, and barriers and social distancing guidelines were placed in work areas.

“It took a couple of weeks, and I think employees recognize that the changes that have been made to make these places safer in what is sort of what is the new norm,” Herr said.