The coronavirus pandemic has caused a disruption to food and agriculture supply chains. Many are worried about the availability of food at the grocery stores. It seems that some food items have been over purchased or that the supply has been limited.
Certainly, as we face these interesting days, we are seeing both hoarding and supply chain issues. With the interruptions through our regular everyday lives this has slowed the flow of produce, meat, milk and grains available to grocers.
Make no mistake, farmers are still raising crops, and stockmen are still raising cattle, pigs, and chickens. The seeds that were planted prior to the onset of the Covid-19 restrictions are still growing quite well and will be ready to harvest in their time.
Yes, crops and livestock will continue to grow quite well, unaffected by any Coronavirus.
The spring calf crop that beef producers had earlier this year will be ready to sell this fall. Fall born calves may be ready to sell now. Cattle raisers are making decisions on how to best market their calf crops.
How does this pandemic play out for these growers?
Look at food items we have locally that could benefit growers and local consumers.
Vegetable production is an obvious first that many undertake each year. Many of us must have our yearly ration of fresh purple hull peas. I hope that pea growers know that this summer, they have a unique opportunity to plant more with the almost assured chance to sell more. And with the short growth season of this crop, know that you can plant two crops this year where you generally only produce enough to sustain your needs.
Numerous gardeners already have their spring planted vegetables in the ground. Inquire if they have extra to sell.
Visit your local farmers market where local farmers and producers are selling goods and products directly to the public. The Harrison County Farmer’s Market opened this past Saturday and had a great crowd of vendors and customers. We are still a few weeks off for fresh tomatoes but that is right around the corner. Our market is opened Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon or sell out, whichever comes first.
Cattle producers may have calves to sell now and will have plenty more to sell later this year. Ask around to see who would partner with you to take side of beef or a quarter of a carcass if that seems the right amount. Next, reach out to a beef producer and ask if they have a calf ready to go to the auction barn.
This arrangement provides positives. First it provides the immediate sale of their calf crop. Second, it will support a local meat packer that you choose to do business with.
I know the details can be trying at first, butas you work out the numbers, know that for a 1,000-pound steer, one can expect about a 610 lbs. hanging carcass weight, and about 430 lbs. of packaged meat (cut and wrapped to bring home) that is locally grown, supports local businesses, and will be processed to your instructions.
I certainly have not been a fan of the “new normal” imposed by the Coronavirus but supporting local food production may be a silver lining.
Matt Garrett is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for HarrisonCounty. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org