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Coronavirus: Some Minnesota grocery stores limiting meat purchases

The nation's pork production has been cut in half.

Hy-Vee has joined Costco as grocery providers who are limiting the number of meat products a shopper can buy at one time. 

The restrictions come as America's supply chain has been disrupted by outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat plants. In Minnesota, outbreaks have either temporarily closed or limited the production capability of at facilities in Worthington, Cold Spring, Windom and Willmar. 

The disease outbreaks come at the same time the demand for meat has fallen sharply due to state governments restricting customers from dining at bars and restaurants, in addition to schools, colleges and universities moving to virtual learning in wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Beginning Wednesday, customers at Hy-Vee will be limited to four packages of a combination of fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken. At Costco, shoppers are limited to three items of beef, pork and poultry. 

"At Hy-Vee, we have product available at our stores but due to worker shortages at plants as well as an increase in meat sales, customers may not find the specific items they are looking for," a Hy-Vee spokesperson said in a statement. 

Target has not placed limits on meat products. 

"I can confirm that we’re not currently placing any limits on the purchase of meat products," a Target rep told Bring Me The News. "I would also share that we are in close, daily contact with all of our vendors to understand what is happening with their operations and currently do not have any concerns about material supply issues." 

Walmart, meanwhile, is monitoring its meat supply closely but has not placed restrictions on purchases. 

“Meat continues to be in high demand as customers stock up on protein. As we would normally do during periods of high demand, we are working through our supply chain to continually replenish items as quickly as possible to help us meet the needs of our customers," a Walmart spokesperson said. 

Bring Me The News has reached out to Cub Foods but did not hear back yet. 

According to state health leaders, outbreaks at meat plants have fueled a rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nobles, Stearns and Kandiyohi counties. 

Based on population, Nobles (#1), Stearns (#2) and Kandiyohi (#4) rank among the most afflicted by the virus in Minnesota, in terms of confirmed cases. 

According to CNN, Tyson Foods held an earnings call this week and estimated that the pandemic has cut the amount of pork being produced in the country in half. 

"We're about three weeks away from not having pork on the shelves in the grocery store. Maybe that will wake people up," said Rep. Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, while speaking April 29 in Worthington. 

"This is a bigger issue than just whether we're going to go hungry or not, it's a national security issue. The United States has got to have a food supply we can depend on for national security. If people don't have food, we're going to have riots."

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