Local producers have the meat, but where’s the market?

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(KWTX) Central Texas producers, faced with sagging markets, are hoping for some relief from a new coronavirus aid package that the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

Central Texas producers, faced with falling prices, are hoping for some relief from a new coronavirus aid package. (Photo by Drake Lawson)

"Prices dropped dramatically and quickly," Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said Tuesday.

"This aid will be the difference for some producers on if they continue operating this year.”

The relief package announced Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will provide as much as $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers affected by the pandemic.

“These payments will help keep farmers afloat while market demand returns as our nation reopens and recovers. America’s farmers are resilient and will get through this challenge just like they always do with faith, hard work, and determination,” he said.

Boening says prices for hogs, cattle and poultry have dropped by at least 25%, in part because of coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants.

Meat isn’t in short supply, he says, but processing has slowed.

"We had meat plants that had to shut down because of the virus," Boening said.

"Some that didn't shut down had to slow production to keep workers safe," he said.

"We totally understand but we are looking to see them back online because if they can’t process our products it stays on our farms and ranches."

Lampasas rancher Mickey Edwards says he’s going to wait until fall to sell his cattle, by which time he hopes prices will have increased.

"It's a supply and demand issue with a backlog of cattle ready to go to market," Edwards said.

"A lot of guys are betting on the future being a lot better, and with this new federal aid that helps," he said.

"Give us another month or two and bring the virus under control and that will help everyone."