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German farmers say meatpackers must work longer after coronavirus curbs

FILE PHOTO: Meat products are displayed in a supermarket, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany, June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

HAMBURG (Reuters) - German meatpackers and slaughterhouses need to work longer hours to compensate for reduced processing capacity after the coronavirus crisis, a farming association said on Friday.

A series of German meat packing plants became COVID-19 hotspots this summer including the massive Toennies slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in central Germany.

This caused a major meat industry shake-up with higher standards imposed and to meet the new demands of coronavirus prevention, German slaughterhouses have reduced their processing capacity, said Franz-Josef Holzenkamp, president of the Association of German Farm Cooperatives.

Protection of health “always has the highest priority” but the changes mean farmers are facing delays in finding slaughterhouses for their pigs, said Holzenkamp.

Slaughterhouse pigs can only be sent with considerable delays to slaughterhouses and are growing too much on farms, he said.

The association is calling for a relaxation of time restrictions on slaughterhouse working, especially on Sundays.

Farmers are also suffering depressed prices caused by import bans on German pork after the discovery of African swine fever (ASF) in wild boars in the country, he said.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by David Evans

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