Purdue holds webinar on impact of COVID-19 on food supply chain

Local farmer gives input

Purdue holds webinar on impact of COVID-19 on food supply chain

Ind. (WFIE) -You may have noticed a meat supply shortage at your local grocery store. That’s because, experts say, there’s a kink in the supply chain.

On Monday our team joined a webinar with agriculture and economic experts from Purdue University.

Carl Schmitz has been farming here in Posey County for decades.

“For 43 years, I was a dairy farmer and grain farmer,” Schmitz said. “And in the past 9 years, solely a grain farmer.”

The impact of COVID-19 has hit him and other farmers financially.

“Last fall straight out of the field, we were getting $4.20 a bushel, and right now about the best is $3.40 that you can get,” Schmitz said.

He and other farmers raise livestock to give to local food pantries. As the need is going up, they’re seeing longer processing times.

“The animals are out there but we can’t get them packaged,” Schmitz said.

That's why a group of experts at Purdue University held a webinar on Monday to talk about the impact COVID-19 has had on the supply chain.

Jayson Lusk is a distinguished Professor and the Department Head of Agriculture at Purdue.

“Both beef and pork processing were running about 40 percent below where they were at this same time last year,” Lusk said.

Lusk said that’s due to the break in the supply chain, mainly at the processing level.

“The demand for cattle and hog weren’t there because the plants couldn’t run that many animals through," Lusk said. "At the same time, because there was less meat being placed on the market, wholesale meat prices were going through the roof.”

There’s something, experts say, we, as consumers can do during this difficult time.

“There are some deals to be made if you’re willing to buy a whole roast or a whole loin. Chop it up, put part of it in the freezer, cook part of it now,” Lusk explained.

Purdue experts said there is some good news here. As processing plants are learning how to socially distance employees and check temperatures, it will, in turn, start that process of putting the supply chain back together.

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