Missouri farmers hoping to get through national meat shortage quickly

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - The meat industry is facing a nationwide shortage, but it's not because of a lack of meat being produced. In fact, there's too much.

"At the present time, there's plenty of pork out there to be utilized, the problem we're having is the manufacturing sector is running at about 60%," Kenny Brinker, owner of Harrison Creek Farms, said.

Brinker says he's only allowed to produce 75% of what he normally does at his farm in Auxvasse.

He said because of how the system is set up, when one part falls short, it affects all other aspects of the supply chain.

"Things are delivered just in the nick of time," Brinker said. "And our system in the United States for raising pork or raising hogs is that we're set up to produce approximately 500,000 market hogs per day. And our packing capacity is set up to package about 500,000 hogs per day."

Because the processors are only running at 60%, that means only about 300,000 hogs are being harvested across the country each day, leading many farmers to have to wait to sell their livestock. 

But that creates an even larger issue.

"When we keep those animals on hand too long, they get too large, then they don't accommodate the size cut specifications the consumer wants," Brinker said.

If the situation gets bad enough, it could lead to drastic measures by farmers.

"It could get to the point, where in some cases, producers are euthanizing and burying some of those hogs, and then that meat is lost to the consumer," he said.

Brinker said there's one thing he wants to make sure you know before your next trip to the grocery store.

"We want to assure the consumer it's not a case of not having enough meat," he said. "It's a case of not having enough processing because of the virus."