Will Harris has been alarmed by news reports of farmers euthanizing their animals because slaughterhouses and processing plants, shut down after coronavirus outbreaks, can’t take them. Such pointless death, Harris said, would never happen at White Oak Pastures, where he and his 160 employees raise the animals, slaughter the animals and sell beef, pork, chicken and other products from a zero-waste farm in the tiny town of Bluffton, Ga.
“If I couldn’t slaughter my pigs or chickens or cows for a day or a month, or a week or a year, they’d all be doing fine,” Harris said in a phone interview. “They’d just keep on living” on the farm.
This is one of the many differences between small, holistic farms such as White Oak and large, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which supply most of the meat Americans consume. The commodity meat supply chain was designed to be efficient, fast and cheap. It wasn’t designed to be resilient to shocks, such as a pandemic, Harris said. So when slaughterhouses and processing plants had to shut down because of coronavirus outbreaks, or were slowed because of absenteeism and the requirements of social distancing, the feedlots…
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