Northwest’s small pig farmers face promise and perils amid the coronavirus pandemic

 

By Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times

June 21, 2020

 

KINGSTON, Kitsap County — On a visit to Tania Issa’s  farm, you won’t find any pink-skinned pigs reared to produce the lean “other white meat” once touted in pork industry advertising campaigns.

 

She raises Mangalitsas, an eastern European breed that sport startling coats of red, black and blonde wool. They yield richly colored meat marbled with a creamy white fat. They are free to ramble around much of her family’s 23-acre property and supplement their daily rations of barley, wheat and field peas by munching on blackberry brambles, Scotch broom and bugs dug out of the earth.

 

Issa and other small Washington livestock farmers report soaring demand for their products amid a pandemic that has put big strains on the nation’s meat industry. The giant Midwest plants where  pigs are butchered have been staggered this year by large outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers. Their operations then had to slow or sometimes shut down, which created a huge backup in pigs ready for slaughter with no place to go. Even with plant outputs rising in recent weeks,  2.5  million animals may end up killed on farms and buried by year’s end, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

 

This debacle in the Midwest heartland, along with  tightened supplies in grocery stores, has helped stoke consumer interest  in alternatives to industrial-scale meat production and created new opportunities for a struggling small livestock industry that has been seeking to play a bigger role in feeding the region.

 

“Our food system is out of whack, and something like this shows that,” Issa said. “People need to eat closer to their food source.”

 

But the novel coronavirus also has created fresh challenges for the estimated 1,200 Washington pig farmers...

 

Midwest market ...

 

Production concerns ...

 

Room to roam ...

 

Smaller slaughterhouses ... 

 

more, including infographics, links   

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwests-small-pig-farmers-face-promise-and-perils-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/