Nationally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force the closure of large meat processing facilities. But for one Magic Valley processor, the shift led to a silver lining.
Typically from February to June, Scarrow Meats doesn’t see too many customers walking through their doors to buy meat directly from them. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been a little different this year.
“On a typical week in May 2019, we would run our kill floor approximately three days a week, we would slaughter approximately five, six seven heads a day, now we’re running our kill floor five and six days a week,” Scarrow Meats owner Don Scarrow said.
Most of the people walking through the doors of Scarrow Meats never bought meat directly processor. Scarrow said although the pandemic has been a negative situation, they have seen some good come out of it. They have been able to employ more people and give their current employees more hours.
“It’s been wonderful on our side because we’re not cutting hours, we’re adding hours and helping everywhere we possibly can,” he said. “I feel bad for the restaurant tours and the businesses and the salons and everybody that could not run, it’s terrible, horrible. My heart goes out to them.”
Larger meat processing plants throughout the nation have shut down due to COVID-19 concerns. Many had outbreaks of COVID-19 among employees. Scarrow said in larger plants, it’s not as easy to keep employees six feet apart, which leads to outbreaks, and sometimes plant closures. The trend led to an overall shortage of meat across the nation.
“Now you have 100,000 extra pigs that are not getting processed; that’s what supplies the restaurants and the grocery stores,” Scarrow said. “There’s a huge supply of live animals, but we can’t get them processed for the restaurants and the grocery stores. It’s a bad situation.”
Scarrow said he expects to see a continued increase at his Jerome-based business in coming months.