The pandemic has served up plenty of painful lessons about the high cost of a supply chain stretching from China. But the Smithfield outbreak in South Dakota has also provided a painful lesson about the high cost of another un-American practice, cheap foreign labor.
A lot of meat processing plants in the Midwest have been reliant on cheap labor from Africa and South America.
The Smithfield outbreak largely happened of cramped living conditions and cultures with very different standards of hygiene.
Foreign labor can be as expensive as the conventional kind of outsourcing. And in Smithfield’s case, you have a combination of both, foreign owners and foreign workers, operating seemingly traditional companies in the United States.
President Trump’s executive order stopping immigration is welcome. And the outbreak in South Dakota is a reminder that foreign labor is also a coronavirus threat.