Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: COVID and weather events are a double whammy

Forest fires, then COVID, and now floods have been a dramatic wake up call for us all

What does the loss of hundreds of thousands of poultry and other livestock do to consumers and producers? How can major rain and flood events effect farmers and the same consumers? What are the lasting effects of a pandemic such as COVID?

Our ranch has been affected by changes in the price and availability of goods and services. The price of parts and supplies seems to have gone up extraordinarily. Recently small ( two feet long) hydraulic hoses for a farm loader cost about $70 each—almost double the cost a couple of years ago.

Now it could be that the cost of trucking of livestock may affect what we get in the commodity market by selling into the big beef production system which services most of the market with beef in the retail stores.

At every level, prices for production go up when labour is not available, if it exists at all. This certainly has been the experience of the big meat processors who had their existing workforce seriously compromised when COVID ravaged the physically close working conditions in abattoirs and butcher shops.

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Small farms can sell directly to consumers if they can find someone to butcher for them.

This will work until some other outbreak threatens product.

We are seeing the huge dislocation and loss (cows, chicken and hogs dying and farmers struggling to feed and water those that survived), as I write this. It is “all hands on deck” to restore the various links in the chain. Credit goes to the volunteers and government officials who are burning the midnight oil these days.

Huge concentrations in some regions (Lower Mainland) created shortages in stores when the flooding hit recently. Much feed comes in by truck and rail and all these connections in the supply chain are challenged.

We used to talk about having only three or four days of supplies in our stores. Talk recently was about only one and a half days in stock for things like dairy and produce. Some local dairies in the Interior had to dump milk (hopefully putting it into composting and later recycling the nutrients onto the land) because the transportation equipment or routes were not available.

Forest fires, then COVID, and now floods have been a dramatic wake up call for us all.

When we have self-sufficient supply chains, we need to support them so they are there for us in our time of need.

I personally am grateful for local and regional suppliers of foodstuffs. My hope is that consumers remember the farmers and processors that keep the supply coming in our times of need and support them in good times and in bad.



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