Food processing closures impact local farmers and grocery businesses

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Posted at 9:46 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 08:31:32-04

(WXYZ) — As millions of pounds of meat are expected to disappear from the U.S. food supply chain due to coronavirus, Southeast Michigan farmers and grocery stores are bracing for the impact. Many farmers are fearing bankruptcy. As restaurant sales plunge, grocery store demand is also surging and now there’s food processing problems.

“We just got good on eggs and toilet paper, and paper towel. Now we’re going to face that issue,” said Joe Montgomery, general manager of Johnny Pomodoro’s in Farmington Hills.

“It’s been very hard to get eggs, it seems like every time something gets fixed, something else is going down,” he added.

Montgomery says the grocery store known for their deals and variety will do everything they can to keep up with demands and keep costs down despite rising expenses. In the meantime, farmers are even more troubled that a broken supply chain will keep them from being able to sell dairy, pork and beef products.

“It’s gut wrenching. Most farmers are multi-generational," says Mary Kelpinski, Michigan Pork Producers Association CEO. "They inherited the farm from their parents and want to hand it off to their kids, but they can’t continue if they’re losing money.”

Tyson Foods, which processes at plants in Indiana and Iowa, is having facilities tested after numerous sick calls and links to more than 180 nationwide cases.

While the federal government has passed some assistance for farmers, those here in Michigan are hoping for more given the national losses that are in the billions.

“If there’s no place to process their pigs, they have no market for their pigs. So, pigs they’ve raised since birth have no value.” Kelpinski said.

As for good news down in Coldwater, Michigan, a facility there is still up and running for food processing.

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