No doubt it is a similar situation in Ireland but right now here in the United States, a trip to the supermarket can be a bit of a guessing game when it comes to predicting which aisles will be empty and which will be well-stocked.

One week it might be toilet paper or flour that are hard to find, the next week it could be sugar or garlic.

In recent times, it was meat that was running low and that caused a lot of worry across the US, all the way to the White House.

Amid fears of meat shortages, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month requiring processing plants and slaughterhouses to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Defence Production Act, the presidential declaration read: "It is important that processors of beef, pork and poultry in the food supply chain continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans."

A number of meat processing plants had been forced to close after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks among staff.

There are currently around 14,000 confirmed coronavirus cases tied to 181 meat processing plants across the US and at least 54 employees have died.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents meatpackers, has accused the Trump Administration of being reckless by trying to rush the reopening of processing plants without adequate safety measures being put in place.

While families are struggling to afford groceries and are turning to food banks and charities, perfectly good animals are being killed and dumped.

Covid-19 disruptions to the food supply chain have led to price rises in the supermarkets.

The US Department of Labour said on Tuesday that the cost of groceries increased by more than 2.5% in April, the largest one month rise in decades. 

The biggest price increase was for eggs which jumped by 16%. Cereals, baked goods, fruits and vegetables are all more expensive and so too are meat and poultry products.

The shutdown of meat processing facilities hasn't just led to higher prices for consumers, it has also caused a far more worrying problem.

It has created a massive backlog of animals that are ready for slaughter but now have nowhere to go.

The rearing and killing of livestock is all about timing. Animals and birds need to be moved on to the next phase of processing when they reach a certain age or size, when that fine balance is disrupted it creates big problems for the industry.

It has led to some very tough choices for many US farmers, who have been forced to cull their livestock and destroy the carcasses.

So at a time when many families are struggling to afford groceries and are turning to food banks and charities, and at a time when supermarket shelves are being left bare, perfectly good animals are being killed and dumped.

The National Pork Producers Council says that 170,000 pigs per day cannot be sent to processing plants and has warned that 10 million pigs may have culled in the US because of Covid-19 disruptions.

There are distressing reports of farmers gassing and shooting their animals.

In the poultry sector, chickens have been suffocated.

The culling or 'depopulating' methods are approved by the authorities but animal welfare groups have branded them as cruel and have called for them stop.

This crisis is not just financially devastating for the farmers.

It can also be emotionally traumatic to destroy the animals they have put so much time and effort into rearing.  Yes, they were always going to be killed but they were supposed to be sold for food, not turned into compost.

Members of the US Congress in recent weeks have been calling for mental health resources for farmers as well as compensation for their lost income.

The US Department of Agriculture has announced that it will spend $100 million a month buying excess meat products to help support the struggling industry.

But it is not just the meat sector that is in trouble. 

Dairy farmers have been forced to dump massive quantities of milk.

Growers have dug pits to bury unsold onions and have ploughed perfectly good beans and cabbages back into the soil.

While we are all buying more groceries than ever in the supermarket, the closure of restaurants, hotels and other businesses means demand for produce has plummeted and the farmers have little choice but to destroy their unsold crops.

That frustration we may feel these days of not being able to find our favourite brand in the shop is a far cry from the financial and emotional distress being felt by food producers here in the US and around the world.