LEXINGTON, MO (KCTV) — Shoppers have probably seen the empty meat coolers at the grocery stores, and the high prices.
But those high prices do not translate to money for local farmers. In fact, farmers have too many animals to sell, so the price they get has fallen to less than a dollar a pound.
It’s because of a break in the supply chain, as meatpacking plants can’t work at full capacity right now. Many have had to shut down for periods of time or trim their workforce to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
In an effort to mend the link, many farmers are now cutting the “middleman” by increasing their sales directly to consumers.
It’s not a new idea for third-generation farmer Brett Fahrmeier. He’s been selling meat inside a small shop on his farm near Lexington, Missouri, for years, and many folks make a yearly pilgrimage to pick their own strawberries. It used to be a small part of his operation—but is growing to be much more.
“It’s bad to say that COVID made local food great again,” Fahrmeier said. “I hate it took a pandemic to make it great.”
More people are thinking about where their food comes from. Customers are looking for homegrown food that filters through few people, because as Fahrmeier reminds us, “people don’t realize how many people walk in front of that zucchini before you get it.”
“Instead of just coming out for strawberries they’re purchasing the other great things we have to offer,” said Fahrmeier. Beef and pork are particularly hot items.
While Fahrmeier is experienced in the farm-to-table trade, he’s had an established Facebook page for years, but other area farmers are new to it.
The Missouri Farm Bureau has stepped in to help, managing a list of farmers by county who are willing to sell direct that shoppers can use to search for eggs, vegetables, a side of beef, or retail cuts. More than 500 Missouri farmers have joined the directory in the just the past two weeks.
“No, it’s not going to be cheaper,” Fahrmeier said, ”but you’ll know where it came from.”
Some say what started to fill a need during the pandemic may well continue as a common practice long after the concerns over COVID-19 have passed.