Food supply chain struggles, as pandemic continues

KNWA

"The orders could be bigger if we had more product is the bottom line."

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — We’re nearly eight months into this public health crisis, and the lasting effects COVID-19 has had on local ranchers still lingers.

Will Hanna is the operations manager at Hanna Family Ranch in Bentonville.

We’re on the cancellation list at numerous processors.

WILL HANNA, OPERATIONS MANAGER, HANNA FAMILY RANCH

KNWA/FOX 24 spoke with Hanna back in May about the struggles of getting animals processed.

It’s now almost November and the problem is snowballing.

“It’s worse, it’s worse than it was,” Hanna said.

Every week he said he gets calls from restaurants looking for lamb, but the conversation ends with the same message.

“Every week we tell them we’re trying to get it to them as fast as we can, but we just can’t get an appointment to get animals processed,” he said.

Northwest Arkansas ranchers are not the only ones in the area, experiencing this.

People like us, who normally were used to scheduling every three to four months, we called our processor and said hey look I’m booked up.

KELTON HAYS, SALES MANAGER, OSAGE CREEK FARMS

Kelton Hays is the sales manager at Osage Creek Farms in Carroll County.

He said they have over 150 to 200 cows, but without being able to process them, he’s out of luck.

“Nobody in Fayetteville or Bentonville wants to buy a 1,300-pound steer, they want to buy a 1.25 boneless ribeye,” he said.

The struggle is already impacting 2020, but also what lies ahead.

“There are only three USDA facilities in the state, and all of them are booked well into 2021,” Hays said. “Processing is a huge bottleneck.”

Both men said they are having to accept the unfortunate state of affairs, but they are hoping things change soon.

KNWA/FOX 24 asked Hanna how much longer he thinks the food supply chain can handle this.

Not much longer.

WILL HANNA, OPERATIONS MANAGER, HANNA FAMILY RANCH

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