As processing plants across the Midwest shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks, many Iowa hog producers are caught with market-ready animals and no place to send them.

“There’s not a playbook for a pandemic,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said last week. “It’s not like a foreign animal disease where we have responses and plans in place. This is uncharted territory for us.”

Current estimates indicate a 25% loss of pork processing capacity nationwide since January. There are also projections that the U.S. could lose as much as 40% of pork processing capacity before this is over.

Tyson Foods shut its large Waterloo pork...