At Codman Community Farms in Lincoln, the beef cattle are grass-fed, pasture-raised and ultimately available for purchase at the farm store. Demand for the farm’s beef, along with free-range chicken and pork, has never been higher.
“People are really coming out of the woodwork and really demanding this product,” said Jennifer Hashley, who manages the farm with her husband, Pete Lowy. “I think we’re up 500 percent over last year in terms of sales.”
That extraordinary uptick in sales is evidence of yet another pandemic-related supply chain disruption. Consumers, already wary of supermarkets, are turning to local farms, as coronavirus outbreaks close some of the nation’s massive meat packing plants and traditional stores limit meat purchases. Local livestock farmers see this as a moment not just to benefit their bottom line, but to leverage changing consumer habits and highlight an industrialized meat production system that’s long made it impossible to compete on prices.
"Eighty-five percent of the meat supply system is controlled by four major suppliers,” said Hashley. “There are so few processing plants, a lot of vertical integration and consolidation of the industry, and — because they can garner such large economies of scale throughout the whole supply chain — it’s really challenging for a small-scale producer to make the economics work well.”...