Farm to Table: Missouri Farm Bureau creates list of farmers who sell direct to consumers
As meat prices in grocery stores continue to increase, many consumers are turning to local farmers for their beef and pork.
NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Diamond resident Steve Johnson is a retired agriculture teacher and has been a farmer for his entire life. He takes pride in being an essential part of America, but the last couple of months have been pretty rough.
“When cattle started selling, they were a pretty good price. And this thing hit and they’ve really went down in a big way. I mean, hundreds of dollars a head down,” says Johnson. “In January, sold three different times that were roughly the same weight, and I went from $1250 a head to $900 a head in a matter of 40 days.”
Johnson explains that the selling price for cattle has rebounded some, but isn’t back to where it used to be. And with the fact that farmers are having to sell their cattle for less, Johnson explains that the reason consumers are paying more for meat at the store is the middle man.
“Packers have been taking advantage of us. What we get at the sale barn is a long way from what you’re paying at the store,” says Johnson. “A fat animal ready to be harvested out of the feed barn’s paying a dollar ten [per pound], dollar twenty maximum. And someplace between when they get sold and when the consumer gets it in the supermarket, the price is unbelievable.”
According to the University of Missouri, the average retail price of beef was $6.44 per pound in April. But Johnson says local farmers, including himself, sell beef for less than $5.00 per pound.
So, many people are cutting out the middle man and going directly to the source for their meat.
“We’ve had a flood of people wanting to know where their product comes from, wanting to know where their pork and beef comes from,” says Lamar, Missouri farmer Bradley Morgan.
“It’s been unreal,” says Johnson. ”
The Morgans, at Morgan Brothers Farm in Lamar, sell whole, half, and quarter beef and pork directly to consumers. Consumers have to pay processing costs, and then the price per pound for the product, but the Morgans take the meat to the processor for you. They also occasionally retail frozen beef and pork.
Johnson also sells beef and (some) pork directly to consumers, where people have to buy either all of, half or a quarter of the meat from the animal. Johnson will take it to the processor, and even pay the price to get it processed (as long as it’s pretty basic).
“You can buy a lot of beef off of farmers for anywhere from $4.00 to $4.50 [per pound]. $5.00 at the max. I personally think that’s a little high. But you know, it is what it is. It’s still cheaper than in the store,” says Johnson.
So right now, getting meat directly from farmers could end up being cheaper than going to your local grocery store, as long as you plan ahead and are willing to wait for it to be processed.
“We will always get them a processing date and we will have an animal for them eventually,” says Bradley Morgan.
But, many people may not know where to go to find a farmer who will sell directly to them. That’s why the Missouri Farm Bureau has created the Missouri Meat Producer Directory, with more than 500 farmers and processors in the state that sell directly to consumers.
“We’ve had several people call us and we have sold several fat hogs and fat cattle through this,” says Matthew Morgan, also with Morgan Brothers Farm in Lamar. “They have just closed the gap between the consumer and the producer and it’s really helped bring these two parts together.”
“I hope they come back and realize the product that they’re getting from the farmers, whether it be me or anybody else, is a quality product that is worth buying. Worth the trouble to think ahead and get this beef animal in the freezer so they have a good quality product,” says Johnson.
Missouri Farm Bureau Missouri Meat Producer Directory: https://mofb.org/missouri-meat-producers/
For residents in Kansas, you can check out the Facebook group Shop Kansas Farms to connect with farmers who sell directly to consumers here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shopkansasfarms/learning_content/
And in Oklahoma, you can find local farmers here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2657441264470486/?fref=mentions&__tn__=K-R