With so much focus on beef and pork and how those industries have been affected by COVID-19, it is easy to forget about some of our other commodities as well. Sheep is another red meat market that does not always get the attention that the others do, but those producers are facing the same trials. These challenges may be even harder on an industry that is two-sided with meat and wool.
Like many commodities, the sheep industry lost half of their demand when restaurants closed because of the pandemic. Unlike the others, this shutdown happened at the highest point in their marketing year, Passover and Easter. Just like with pork, the lack of demand and processing capabilities is creating a backlog for producers. Peter Orwick is Executive Director of the American Sheep Industry Association. He explains their situation.
The effects of this backup are causing just as much of a financial strain on sheep producers as any other.
While the industry is not as large as beef and pork, it still going to take a huge hit to its value. Orwick says they are seeing drastic losses at the auction markets.
Not only is this affecting the meat side of the business, but wool prices are shooting down because of the lack of demand for clothing and the lack of clothing production because of the pandemic.
This has no longer become a question of who is hurting more, it is just a question of what the long-term effects will be in the future.