This problem has been building since mid-March, but it appears to have hit a critical point this week. On Sunday, Tyson Foods, the country’s second-largest processor of chicken, beef and pork, warned that the U.S. “food supply chain is breaking.”In full-page advertisements in The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, company chairman John Tyson wrote: “This means one thing — the food supply chain is vulnerable. As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain.”American farmers are still raising chickens, beef cattle and hogs — in addition to food crops. But fewer places are available to slaughter and process those animals and get the meat to market.Q: Why is worker illness at processing plants having such a big effect?In recent years, the farming mantra “Get big or get out” has extended to American meat-processing plants and other sectors of the food system. Consolidation has been a consistent theme, with multinational companies gobbling up smaller operators for economies of scale, increased efficiency and greater speed.“A single processing plant may kill a million chickens a week, so if one


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