The selection of meat many Oklahomans are accustom to while visiting the local grocery store will likely be changing and soon.
The state of Oklahoma isn’t alone, as nationwide meat processing centers are slowing down or completely closing altogether.
“People I think are very likely to see limited supplies of fresh meat at the grocery store,” said Dr. Derrell Peel, extension & livestock marking specialist at Oklahoma State University.
The reason for it all, employees are sick.
“We’re seeing some of these plants having to entirely close for a couple of weeks at a time, 10 days or two weeks,” said Peel. “Other plants aren’t closing entirely but they are either having so much absenteeism because workers are affected by this thing.”
Because of that production is taking a huge hit.
“Last week beef production was down 25% from the same week one year ago and over the last three weeks, we have produced about 300 million pounds less than we did in the same period last year,” said Peel.
As meat processers struggle, places like Perry Farms in Norman are flooded with people wanting to learn how to grow food.
“I think more people are trying to put in a garden,” said Charlene Perry of Perry Farms. “They have lots of questions. A lot people want to know how to grow whatever it was they got from me last year.”
Experts urge not to panic or hoard food.
“Panicking and trying to but extra product just exacerbates the problem really and it is a temporary thing,” said Peel. “It’s not going to last that long.”
Experts have learned many things from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of which, realizing just how fragile the system really is.
It is something they’ll be looking into going forward.