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COVID-19 having an impact on local farmers

Coronavirus has forced many businesses to shut down, including restaurants and supermarkets have limited the number of items customers can buy which may be hurting farmers.

Posted: Apr 15, 2020 11:58 AM
Updated: Apr 15, 2020 12:13 PM

OROVILLE, Calif. - The coronavirus pandemic forced many restaurants and supermarkets to limit the number of items customers can buy, which may be hurting farmers.

Action News Now Mackenzie Drigo spoke with the manager at Table Mountain Farm, Megan Brown, she wants people to know there is an abundant amount of supply for beef. However, the issue is that she can't keep her pigs in stock.

The coronavirus pandemic has been leaving companies short of supplies… in some cases, even putting them out business. Brown said that there is not a shortage in beef – rather slaughterhouses have been having issues with employment.

"We get one paycheck a year," Brown said.

Megan Brown is a beef farmer, she is getting ready to market their cattle - but beef farmers were told to keep them for as long as they can. She says not being able to sell her cattle is a huge problem.

"When the slaughterhouses shut down it really creates a big problem in the beef industry," Brown said. "We really need to be concerned of the processor's health they have shut down some beef plants because of the illness, which I totally support, we need to take care of these people but it also may affect the supply."

Brown says the bulk of her income comes from commercial cattle.

"The auctioneer will then take a little commission out so that's how everyone's making money so they're suffering too if they're not getting commission it affects everyone all the way down," Brown said.

Since the stay-at-home order was put in place, Brown said it made farmers go back to their roots.

"If you go out and buy a steak right now you are supporting me, you are supporting the cattlemen, restaurants have been shut down and that's a huge part of the demand for beef, but because of the infrastructure it's not quite there yet," Brown said.

"Buy beef, buy beef when you can please support us," Brown said.  If you would like to buy beef from her, Click Here.

Action News Now also spoke with the owner of Brentwood Farms in Orland, Robert Bignami, he said their production has been cut back.

Bignami said that they have lost nearly half of their income because their milk prices have dropped almost two-thirds.

He said the company was producing 9,500 gallons and now they are producing 8,800.

Bignami says that 40% of his market is either exported or delivered to places like restaurants.

When we asked if you can convert leftover milk into something else, he said no.

“No you can't, because the milk plants have certain equipment that they are processing the milk through, and you can't get any more milk through them, and if you have cheese plants or you have a plant that’s making milk powder or butter or something you can't just have that convert into something else,” Bignami said.

Bignami said it's hard to get their product to consumers because their packaging size is different.

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We have beautiful weather around northern California right now, but it will get a lot more unsettled this weekend as a storm moves overhead. We can expect gusty wind, a big cooldown, and areas of light to moderate rain.
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