Restaurant closures due to the coronavirus have contributed to an estimated $5 billion in losses this year for the U.S. pork industry, and almost overnight millions of hogs stacking up on farms now have little value.
With very few options to sell, it is now cheaper to kill the animals, instead of trying to sell them.
Plunging sales also means there is no room to hold additional animals in increasingly cramped conditions.
After extended trade disputes and worker shortages, this was supposed to finally be the year hog farmers hit it big with prices expected to climb amid soaring domestic and foreign demand.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is promising to send cash and buy stored pork but industry leaders say it might not be enough to stem devastating losses.