Germany’s agriculture minister called for slaughterhouses and meatpackers on Friday to work on weekends and on public holidays. The objective was to deal with a backlog of animals that has built up on farms during the coronavirus crisis.
In the country, industry approximates around 590,000 animals are waiting for slaughter, said agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner. State subsidies to store unsold meat are just one option but not planned immediately.
Kloeckner told an online meeting of farming associations that the situation has been sharpened. That’s because of corona-related restrictions on the slaughtering capacity in the entire EU, she added.
After the COVID-19 outbreaks, the country toughened working and health regulations in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.
Farming associations complain this cut slaughtering capacity. Moreover, pigs especially are having to be kept longer on farms although they are ready for sale, causing price falls.
Also, import bans on German pork are depressing prices in China and other countries. This comes after African swine fever surfaces in wild boars in Germany.
Kloeckner said that prices are also under pressure in Germany’s neighboring countries. These are especially Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. That’s because the loss of third-country exports by Germany is a burden on the entire (EU) internal market, she said.
The government is seeking to increase slaughtering capacity. Growth in the backlog of animals has been halted as more slaughtering capacity was put into operation.
Working on Sundays and Public Holidays
Kloeckner said she had requested Germany’s employment minister for a more flexible application of working regulations in slaughterhouses. This includes working on Sundays and public holidays.
She added that farming associations want state subsidies of private warehousing to store unsold meat.
Furthermore, Kloeckner said she had not excluded this option, but the timing is important. This would not be sensible during the Christmas season when meat demand is high.
She said mid-January would be a suitable time point. It’s because demand during this period, from experience, is likely to be weak.
In order to clear farm backlog, the German minister encourages meatpackers to work overtime.
U.S. Diesel Glut Mostly Gone
U.S. stocks of distillate fuel oil are swiftly returning to normal. It reverses the prodigious glut that built up previously during the first wave of the COVID-19 and lockdowns.
The absorption of excess distillates is now a possibility. This was due to U.S. refiners sharply lowering refinery crude processing. Moreover, due to refiners operating their equipment to maximize the production of gasoline.
Now stocks are nearing normal levels. Crude processing is likely to accelerate. The extreme bend towards gasoline is likely to be replaced by a normal balance of refined product output.