Some meat processing plants remain closed, small farms seeing big business

2 million chickens being killed because processing plants are short-staffed
Posted at 4:32 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 18:58:51-04

KIRTLAND HILLS, Ohio — Panic buying due to COVID-19 combined with the temporary closure of several big-name meat processing plants has caused a major hiccup in the food industry.

“The sales of freezers has gone up dramatically over the last six weeks,” Ty Higgins said. “People are leaving the car in the driveway and they’re putting a freezer in the garage because they’re worried about not having enough food to go around.”

Grocery shoppers are clearing the shelves of chicken, pork and beef, which has forced many to buy their supply from local farmers.

Since March, business at Cedar Crest Farm and Feed has taken off in ways Lisa Samples never anticipated.

“The demand has increased and with that people are coming to the smaller farms,” Samples said. “Not only because the factories are closing, but they’re also more aware of where their food is coming from.”

Customers have begun bypassing large chain stores and coming straight to the source.

“If we were to have this tremendous crisis in the break of our food chain, I know that I can go into my backyard and I can at least have eggs,” Samples said. “Or I can raise a small flock of meat birds.”

In the last six weeks, Samples has sold more than 500 birds for their meat.

“Business has never been better for us,” Samples said.

Ty Higgins, of the Ohio Farm Bureau, said the rush to grocery stores isn’t necessary.

“If we all buy five times more than we need, we’re going to go through the cold storage supply that we have five times faster,” Higgins said.

However, it’s pushed customers to go back to the basics and support small businesses.

“It’s a golf ball in the garden hose,” Higgins said. “The farmer is still doing what they do on the farm in order to supply our protein.”

Samples said new customers have even taken interest in raising their own chicks for backyard farming.

“We have done our second batch of a thousand chicks and we are down to one hundred chicks,” Samples said.

She believes the pandemic and the halt at meat processing plants will permanently motivate people to buy their groceries locally.

“Once folks realize that we have all these amazing small farms out there that are offering all these amazing products, they’re not going to go back to factory farming,” Samples said.

Cedar Crest Farm and Feed is located at 9215 Baldwin Road in Kirtland Hills.