Have you seen the pictures? Mountains of potatoes being dumped and piled high in Idaho as farmers find a collapse in demand for their produce. Hog farmers in Minnesota are looking at culling over 200,000 animals, because the processing plants that are a critical link in keeping the whole process moving are being shut down due to coronavirus infections.
Across Canada and the United States, the food production industry is grinding to a halt because foreign seasonal workers are finding it impossible to travel, and in an oh-so-appropriate twist of fate, Americans and Canadians are apparently too coddled to undertake the work themselves. Even worse, in Quebec, a farmer who did hire locals to replace her usual Guatamalan workers reports that it takes 2.5 hours of Quebecer’s labour to equal one hour of a Guatamalan.
How’s that for irony?
Turns out the lazy, no good, untrustworthy Latinos stealing our jobs are actually the only ones hard-working, skilled, and trustworthy enough to do the job. So how are us poor tender-footed, agriculturally averse North Americans going to cope?
What this all adds up to is an impending food shortage of continental proportions. And along with scarcity comes the inevitable higher food prices.
In fact, by some estimates, prices for meat could soon double or even triple, because according to Tyson Foods Chairman John Tyson, “the food chain is breaking”. Tyson Foods is the largest meat processor in the United States and has closed some of its plants in response to workers testing positive for Coronavirus.
Millions of chickens, pigs and cows are being euthanized because of the closures, and so the great irony is that despite abundant supplies of live animals, the meat shortage will worsen as the summer approaches because of the lost processing capacity.
Farmers are also threatening to not plant crops this year because they say that the lack of any meaningful federal aid means whatever they plant will ultimately be compost because of the shortage of workers to harvest them.
So where does that leave us?
The first clue that the problem is actually way worse than anyone thinks is that mainstream media is telling us that there is no problem and we shouldn’t start stockpiling meat. They even call it “panic buying” to try and make you feel bad about it.
But that’s exactly what you should do, if you want to enjoy this summer’s regular roster of weekend barbecues without paying a higher and higher premium for increasingly scarce meat and poultry.
I’m in the process of ordering some calves for the farm this summer, as a way to hedge my bet against higher prices or scarcity. If you don’t have the land to raise your own food, you should make that a top priority.
If that’s just not an option for you, then fill up your freezer, because this meat shortage is about to get much worse.
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