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  • Beth Tharp

Of Food Shortages, Euthanasia and the like…

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

It’s been plastered all over the news and I’m sure you’ve heard; the US livestock industry, specifically pig farmers are going through a crisis situation. It’s a human health issue stemming from COVID-19 outbreaks with workers at the processing facilities. You see, there are plenty of hogs, but not the processing capacity as plants all over the nation are shut down or running at limited capacity. Predictions are that meat will be limited on supermarket shelves in a week or two.

For the last 30 years my family and I have taken care of pigs, and in return they have taken care of us. Raising pigs has been our core business, and the pigs have provided for our and our employees' families. While we really appreciate and are excited about the opportunity to provide food direct to consumers from our farm through LT Farm Meats, the majority of our pigs are processed by packing plants that supply meat to grocery stores domestically and across the globe.

The pork industry runs efficiently. Competition and narrow margins have evolved it into an industry that run efficiently. Pigs are grown in a just in time fashion with a continuous stream of pigs born every day, and pigs harvested everyday. Barn space is fixed and pigs keep growing. You see, when we aren't able to harvest pigs, and barn space is limited hard decisions must be made. In order to avoid animal suffering of overcrowded spaces, animals will have to be humanely euthanized.

Market ready pigs, euthanized and not able to be used for meat products...this is gut wrenching, like physically makes me sick to my stomach. Fortunately, up to this point we have not had to do any mass euthanasia on our farm. This is an evolving situation, and like any thoughtful business owner we are making contingency plans. Plans we hope to never have to enact.

It's human nature to jump in and start pointing fingers, but never wise. This is just a situation that has no good answers I'm afraid, and no happy endings. We don't want workers to be sick, we don't want people to go hungry from food shortages at the grocery store and at food pantries, and we don't want to have to euthanize pigs that we have spent the last 6 months caring for and would otherwise provide nutritious protein for our those who need it.

As you can imagine local processing facilities have filled their spaces quickly. We try to plan a year ahead with our local butcher for our LT Farm Meats processing. We are thankful for the animals that we were able to get scheduled last December for the 2020 calendar year, and are on a wait list to get whatever more in we can. We also realize we are in a unique position to provide for those in need in our community. We have started and plan to continue to donate meat from some of the animals that we send through the local processor to food pantries in Putnam County.

These are challenging times for so many. We try to keep focusing on what we can control and lean hard on our faith.

My best,

Beth Tharp

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