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Demand for local meat products complicates scheduling at processing facilities

Local meat processors are still working through scheduling challenges sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tom Eickman with Eickman’s Processing in Seward, Illinois tells Brownfield stronger demand for local products has them booking slaughter appointments nearly a year in advance.

“It is such a far time frame for a farmer to try to figure out what he is gong to sell six, eight, even twelve months from now. I’m making a date for a hog that I have yet to even farrow, so it has kind of made a complicated system out there right now.”

He says higher cattle prices have also changed some plans. “It is affecting it a little bit, of what is coming in through the slaughter side of it. They might be booked for five animals and only show up with three, so we are trying to back-fill some.”

He says while high demand is a good problem to have, he does not expect it to slow down anytime soon, and they might have to implement a deposit program to ensure those spots are being filled.  

Eickman is a past-president of the Illinois Association of Meat Processors. He currently serves as treasurer for the American Association of Meat Processors and will take over the role of President this July, a leadership position that his father and grandfather both held.  

Brownfield interviewed Eickman during the joint convention of the Illinois Association of Meat Processors and Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association in Effingham, Illinois.

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