Farmers Take Lead in a “Butchered” Meat Industry

Please Note: The information in this article was sourced from the United States Department of Agriculture, investigatemidwest.org, CNBC News, and Eponline Publication. For more information about the below topics please visit the following websites: www.usda.gov, www.investigatemidwest.org, www.cnbc.com and www.eponline.com.

Empty shelves during a routine trip to a local grocery store is a startling side effect of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic that most Americans are experiencing. The meat industry is one of many grocery store categories that has taken a debilitating hit during the outbreak of COVID-19. Experts reported to CNBC News that the meat industry as a whole could potentially take a loss greater than $20 billion dollars in 2020. Many factors continue to contribute to the decrease in dollars within the meat industry.

With close working conditions and the pandemic in full force, large meat processing plants quickly became a hot spot for COVID-19. Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow, Sky Chadde, stated:

“As of August 25th, there have been at least 37,500 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 416 plants in 40 states, and at least 170 reported deaths in at least 49 plants in 27 states.”

As the number of infected workers rose, large meat processing plants were forced to temporarily close their doors. The shutdown disrupted the supply and demand for meat production, and although restaurants and schools were purchasing less meat with shutdown mandates, consumers began to panic at the retail level. Grocery stores saw cartloads of meat flying out the door, leaving the meat counters bare. With a high demand for meat and the decline in meat processing production, consumers were faced with quickly rising meat prices. One example has been presented by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), who announced that ground beef prices rose 4.4 percent in April alone. The United States president even stepped in and mandated that meat production would continue despite a rise in the nation’s infection rate. To keep the meat industry afloat and Americans fed, the government turned their attention to local farmers.

Farmers and ranchers are a vital part of the American food chain and are now being relied on more than ever. As the pandemic forcefully shut down many businesses, local farmers and ranchers were given the chance to thrive. Although this is a great opportunity for local farmers, it is not an easy undertaking. Environmental Protection suggests that farmers and ranchers are, and will be, facing a game of supply and demand. These local businesses are working to meet the needs of a large volume of customers while maintaining their own needs for supplies, materials, and parts. With an increase in demand for product, farmers are now finding themselves shelling out more cash on supplies to keep their businesses running and adapt to these uncertain times.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, President Trump and the USDA partnered together to develop a support plan for local farmers. On April 17, the USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to support farmers and ranchers. This assistance program has two goals. The first goal is to support the farmers and ranchers with a direct approach. Under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities) Act, $16 billion will be provided directly to farmers and ranchers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The second goal is to partner with farmers to supply food boxes to consumers in need. Most farmers and ranchers are eligible for these government grants to assist in covering marketing and production costs, as well as generating sales. The USDA recently announced that there has been an extension to apply for these assistance programs, so it is not too late! The deadline to apply is September 11, 2020. For more information, instructions on how to apply for the assistance programs and to check out other great resources visit www.farmers.gov/coronavirus.

As the pandemic continues into the fall, local farmers continue to hold their own. With support for our local farming community, U.S. Cooler understands that higher demand in volume may require more equipment. As a leader in the walk-in cooler and freezer industry, we are committed to providing exceptional customer service and quick lead times. If you are in need of a walk-in to keep your business up and running please give us a call at 1-800-521-2665. With many options from shelving, overhead meat rails, and a variety of other options we are happy to quickly work with you on creating a walk-in cooler or freezer to perfectly fit your business’s needs.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a trying time for all Americans, but there is hope. With many helping hands, we all will rise back up and overcome this hurdle. Our hats are off to our farmers, and U.S. Cooler would like to extend a warm sentiment to all local farmers and ranchers… Thank you for being that helping hand and feeding America one day at a time!