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Boneless Chicken Scarce, Food Supply Chain ‘Breaking’ Amid Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a major toll on the North American meat industry, and boneless chicken in particular.

Food stores in the United States and Canada are stocking the shelves with chicken thighs and drumsticks, as opposed to the more popular boneless chicken legs and breasts, according to a Fortune report. The neighboring nations have reduced slaughter capacity due to novel coronavirus infections among workers at some of the largest meat processing plants. Some plants have even limited the types of cuts available to consumers.

President Donald Trump, citing his authority under the Defense Production Act, declared in an executive order Tuesday that “it is important that processors of beef, pork, and poultry (‘meat and poultry’) in the food supply chain continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans.”

The food supply chain has been hurting since mid-March, when the COVID-19 outbreak intensified and shutdowns began. Tyson Foods (the nation’s second-largest processor of chicken, beef and pork) Chairman John Tyson warned Sunday that the U.S. “food supply chain is breaking” and that “there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.”

White House officials have indicated they will issue safety guidance for food plants to help protect their workers from the virus.

On Tuesday, the President received praise from The North American Meat Institute, the oldest and largest association representing the U.S. meat and poultry packing and processing industry.

“We are grateful to (President Trump) for protecting our nation’s food supply,” President and CEO Julie Anna Potts wrote in a statement. “The safety of the heroic men & women working in the meat & poultry industry is the 1st priority. And as it is assured, facilities should re-open.”

According to the Fortune report, “outbreaks have shut down almost a third of U.S. pork capacity.” Meanwhile, the Canadian company Cargill Inc. has halted production at its beef plant in High River, Alberta, which “accounts for about 40% of country’s processing capacity.”

As of Tuesday morning, more than 4,400 meatpacking workers nationwide have tested positive for the virus, with at least 18 workers succumbing to the virus, according to USA TODAY/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting tracking. Employees in at least 80 plants across 26 states have been infected with COVID-19. Additionally, there have been at least 28 closures of plants for at least one day.

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Economy

Gallup poll: Immigration surges to ‘most important problem’ among Americans

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In just the last month alone, Immigration has become the most important problem facing the United States to many Americans, surging from 20% to 28%. “Immigration has now passed the government as the most often cited problem, after the two issues tied for the top position the past two months. The government ranked first each month from January through November 2023″ reports Gallup.

In the latest poll, immigration surpasses all other issues as the most pressing issue (28%); 20% of Americans name the government as the most important problem, followed by the economy (12%) and inflation (11%). Immigration is the only issue that has shown meaningful change in the past month.

The latest results are based on a Feb. 1-20 Gallup survey. Immigration has ranked ahead of all other issues as the most important problem before, having last done so five years ago when there was a surge of attempted border crossings by Central American migrants. Immigration also ranked as the No. 1 problem in July and November 2018 and July 2014.

Gallup started compiling mentions of immigration in 1981. The 28% currently naming immigration as the most important problem essentially ties the 27% reading from July 2019 as the highest in Gallup’s trend.

The latest survey was conducted at a time when a bipartisan group of congressional senators reached an agreement on an immigration reform proposal. The bill ultimately failed to pass a Senate vote, but it faced an uncertain fate in the Republican-led House of Representatives even if it had passed. The House passed a tougher immigration bill in 2023 that the Democratic-led Senate has not taken up and President Joe Biden promised to veto.

The recent bipartisan negotiations took place in response to a record number of border crossings at the southern border in recent months, peaking at over 300,000 in December. An influx of migrants in U.S. cities has also stressed social services there.

Republicans typically are the subgroup most likely to name immigration as the most important problem, and they are largely responsible for the increase in mentions this month. Currently, 57% of Republicans, up from 37% in January, say immigration is the top problem. Independents show a modest uptick, from 16% in January to 22% now, while there has been no meaningful change among Democrats (9% in January and 10% in February).

Residents of the East (36%) and South (31%) are more likely to say immigration is the biggest U.S. problem than are those living in the Midwest (25%) and West (22%). Southern residents have typically been most likely to regard immigration as the top issue.

More See Illegal Immigration as a Critical U.S. Threat

A separate question in the survey finds a record-high 55% of U.S. adults, up eight points from last year, saying that “large numbers of immigrants entering the United States illegally” is a critical threat to U.S. vital interests. The prior high was 50% in 2004.

The vast majority of Republicans already believed illegal immigration was a critical threat; 84% said so a year ago, but the percentage has now reached 90%. A larger increase, from 40% to 54%, has been seen among independents. Far fewer Democrats view illegal immigration as a critical threat, but that percentage is up from 20% in 2023 to 29%.

Continue reading: Gallup.com 

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