Livestock farmers warned to brace for hard times ahead

dairy farms

(© Savo Ilic –

Mitigation measures to control the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted normal livestock marketing channels and supply chains, and economists say it will get worse before it gets better.

During a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Livestock Advisory Committee webinar in May, Michael Nepveux offered a national perspective on livestock markets and meat supply chain issues. Nepveux, an American Farm Bureau Federation economist, said restaurant closings have lowered the demand for livestock products, as Americans normally spend about 54% of their food dollars away from home. Consumer purchases of takeout and fast food have not made up for the loss.

“When you shut down that segment of the economy, of course that will cause a massive adjustment in the system,” Nepveux said, adding that he doesn’t know when people will again feel comfortable dining out. “There’s a lot of uncertainty, and that’s driving a lot of the volatility.”

He said pandemic-related panic buying, reduced packing capacity and labor issues have only intensified economic uncertainty. These combined factors have resulted in lower livestock prices as retail prices increase.

Nepveux warned farmers to brace themselves, and to expect a full-fledged economic recession later this year with a slow recovery.

“Whenever you have a recession, one of the animal proteins that does not fare as well as others is beef,” he said, noting that beef is more expensive than other proteins. This is where consumers typically cut back in hard times.

However, beef and hog slaughter plants are reopening and increasing capacity. This offers some measure of economic relief, as does the $16 billion in assistance for agriculture through the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Mike Carpenter, manager of livestock services for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, discussed Virginia livestock imports, exports and upcoming trends. He said very few livestock markets closed in Virginia, though prices are gyrating. He expressed concern about prices and consumer behavior when the industry catches up on the backlog in the production pipeline.

“That’s looming in the background,” he said. “How will that affect the market?”


UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Feedback from buyers: “Got the Book in the Mail Saturday, and could not put it down! Great read and great photography as well! Love all of the books I’ve received, but hands down, this is my favorite!” – Russell

Buy here.

augusta free press news
augusta free press news
augusta free press news