Ozarks Tonight: No meat shortage with local cattle farmers

Ozarks Tonight

MILLER, Mo. – We are hearing stories of a possible meat shortage since many plants across the country are shutting down. Grocery stores are implementing a limit on how much meat one person can purchase at a time. But for local cattle farmers, there’s no shortage of meat, they say.

In this Ozarks Tonight, Jenifer Abreu talks to Traves Merrick, owner of Herdsman-Gleonda Angus Farms and the VP of Region 7 of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, a member-driven organization that advocates for the cattle industry in Missouri.

Merrick says the issue right now is getting enough cattle to the processors.

“We have plenty of cattle ready to go, [the issue] is keeping the plants operating to get this cattle pushed through,” he said.

Merrick said there are several local packing plants in Southwest Missouri, and while some local producers use those, some also make direct sales to customers, including himself. He has a retail shop at his farm and says he’s putting no limits on how much consumers can buy.

“I feel like enough producers are willing to offer beef directly to the consumer from the farm,” he said.

For a list of local meat producers with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, click here.

Merrick believes a possible meat shortage, the health and production issues plans are facing, and the limits stores are putting in place won’t be a long-term issue.

“The packers will be back to full capacity at some point,” he said. “The only other issue is will we be able to afford the product on the shelves if the price keeps going up.”

Merrick says he has kept his prices the same during this pandemic. He suggests going to an area farm to purchase locally produced beef is an activity in itself.

“Get away from the city, it makes for a good Sunday trip,” he said. “I think it creates transparency with what our industry does. People can come to see what we do and talk to us directly. Maybe let the customer rest at ease if they prefer grass-fed and no added hormones, things like that.”

His farm, Herdsman-Gleonda Angus Farms, is about 30 minutes from Springfield and Joplin.

“We are selling just about as fast as we are getting meat in the freezer,” Merrick said.

Merrick hopes shopping local and directly from producers is something that will continue as we move forward and out of pandemic mode. The only issue he foresees with direct marketing could be keeping up with the demand, as some area processing plants can only kill six to ten animals a day.

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