Panic buying during COVID-19 prompts beef processing backlog

Cattle farmers are booking processing into 2022
Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 11:11 AM EDT
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MONROE COUNTY, Mich. (WTVG) - The pandemic is prompting some people to stock up on meat. So much so, it’s creating a backlog for processing.

“We’ve never had it like this at all," explains Abby Stanger, who runs her family’s cattle farm in Monroe County, Michigan, with her husband, Joe, a fourth-generation cattle farmer. “The last few years there’s been a lot of focus on eating local and knowing your farmer and knowing where your food comes from. So, there’s been a lot of that focus. And then also, a few months ago, when there were all the shortages at the grocery stores, I think people were like, ‘Oh, boy.’”

The Stangers say panic shopping and hoarding during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak is now driving up demand for large orders of meat.

If you’re thinking you’d like a freezer full of meat, the Stangers say you’d better plan ahead. Processing is booked for the next year and a half, all the way into 2022. They say it’s not the supply of cattle, it’s the lack of local processors who can’t currently keep up with the sudden demand.

“Get on the list. Yeah, sounds crazy, but yeah, get on the list because it is. It’s booking out. We’re already booking, you know, we have real names in for next year of people,” Stanger said.

At the rate it’s going, the demand for local bulk beef may long outlast the pandemic itself.

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