In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many meat processing and food production facilities have temporarily closed or reduced operations, raising concerns about shortages and the safety of our nation’s food supply. West Virginia University Extension Service Livestock Specialist Kevin Shaffer provides some insight about West Virginia’s beef supply and what we can do to help producers and fellow consumers.
“West Virginians should not panic about a national meat shortage. Empty or limited meat cases at your local grocer are likely the result of consumers irresponsibly over-buying meats. Though they are currently worth much less, beef cattle in West Virginia and across the nation are still moving through the supply chain despite market limitations caused by COVID-19. However, because of the decreased market value of live animals, some producers are electing not to or are unable to market animals that would otherwise be advancing through the supply chain.”
“The biggest impact on West Virginia beef producers depends on their marketing strategy. The vast majority of producers market live animals and are seeing significant decreases in the market value of their animals. Producers who are harvesting their animals locally, as well as direct marketing beef producers, are seeing increased demand and increased sales. I would anticipate that West Virginia meat processors will see an increase in business throughout 2020.”
“West Virginians consume about 100 million pounds of beef per year. West Virginia produces approximately 55 million pounds of retail cuts of beef per year, so we can supply a little over half of our total annual consumption. Consumers can help local producers by being responsible shoppers. Hoarding and binge-buying does not help producers or your fellow consumers."
“To prepare for situations like these, producers need to work on a marketing plan and look at value added marketing options as well as cooperative marketing programs, like calf pools. If not already, they should become Beef Quality Assurance certified and seek assistance from their veterinarian on developing and implementing a comprehensive herd health program. Producers should also develop a grazing management plan to make the most of available forage resources.” – Kevin Shaffer, associate professor and livestock specialist, WVU Extension Service
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