Arkansas cattle farmers feeling impact of COVID-19

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – President Trump declared meat processing plants “critical infrastructure”. Meaning those plants can stay open and operate amid the pandemic. 

 Arkansas livestock farmers are still hard at work, especially right now, in the middle of calving season. During this time, many producers are keeping their eye on the bigger picture. 

Going from farm to table, the product needs to go through many different avenues. Cody Burkham, the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President, says there is a backlog when farmers can take their livestock to a processing facility.

“We have got to be able to move our cattle further along in the process,” says Burkham. “Right now there’s a bottleneck in our supply chain that’s really causing a lot of issues And some concern for producers.” 

Despite the backup, he reassures families the food supply isn’t going anywhere. 

“As we see these process facilities kind of slow, you might not be able to find your favorite package of steak or cut of beef, but there will still be plenty of product there,” Burkham said. 

Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation says there is limited capabilities with processing plants and it will take time to get back up to speed. 

“We do not have a food shortage in this country. We just have some slow down in our ability to deliver that product because it does require processing,” Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation Chief economist Travis Justice said. “It’ll be several months at least until we can get some kind of stability here in these markets.”

He agrees it’s just another tough time for farmers, but they are having to adjust just like everyone else. 

“The production capability in this country is huge. It’s just a matter of getting it processed and delivered it to the right place,” Justice said. 

The Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association says they are working with farmers to get access to the CARES Act, but there will still be a financial loss for some. What that is exactly is unclear at this time. 

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