Coronavirus: Local Kingston beef farmers cannot get their product to customers fast enough

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries have either shut down or drastically scaled back operations.

The meat processing industry is one of them.

Local beef farmers in the Kingston region have seen a surge in demand for their products, but are having issues getting their product to customers.

“We do move them [cows] every day to a new pasture,” says Tim Dowling, owner of Doublejay Farms.

READ MORE: Coronavirus may cause temporary meat shortages. But higher prices will last longer

Dowling is a third-generation organic grass-fed beef farmer on Howe Island, a farm in business for over 60 years — and an enterprise now affected by COVID-19.

Beef farmer Tim Dowling watches over his herd at Doublejay Farms.
Beef farmer Tim Dowling watches over his herd at Doublejay Farms. Global News

Doublejay Farms has a herd of about 80 beef cattle, 15 of which are slaughtered every year.

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But since COVID-19 there has been a major surge in local demand for their product.

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1:16 Pichora talks about Kingston hospitals and the gradual resumption of elective surgeries

Pichora talks about Kingston hospitals and the gradual resumption of elective surgeries

It’s a good problem to have, but the issue is they cannot get the meat processed fast enough.

That demand is coming from local customers looking for alternative sources of beef as prices start to rise, caused by coronavirus-related slowdowns at some meat processing plants across Canada.

“The processing plants everywhere have more animals lining up to get into them, so they are running at capacity,” says Dowling.

“Everyone is trying to find places to take their animals … because so much of the processing capacity has been shut down due to outbreaks at those plants.”

READ MORE: Canadian farmers mull euthanasia for animals as coronavirus slows processing

One of those plants is Cargill Meat Solutions in High River, Alta., and according to Dowling, there is now a domino effect that falls all the way to the local level.

“Our biggest problem is finding people to cut and wrap it [beef],” says Dowling.

“Their cutting and wrapping prices are going up, so we may be looking at raising our prices.”

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Adding to the problem is that, locally, according to Dowling, several abattoirs in the Kingston region are not thriving, with several close to shutting down because of retirement.

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