Pete Scarmardo has done everything he can to maintain his cattle business despite the challenges he has faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pete started Scarmardo Cattle Company back in 1975, and today manages the business alongside his wife Jo and their three sons.
Challenges of an unprecedented scale
Being a farmer has never been easy. But the challenges facing farmers due to the COVID-19 pandemic are like none before. The primary challenge for livestock farmers like Pete has been meat packing plant closures.
Employees at the packing plants work in close proximity to one another and without social distancing regulations enforced, the virus spread quickly. To protect the employees, as well as the safety of the meat, many plants have decreased the number of employees on the floor at one time, significantly slowing production
While agriculture markets are known to be volatile, this drastic decrease in processing capacity nation-wide caused startling market changes that have left farmers like Pete with nowhere to sell their livestock.
Home on the ranch, Pete was still feeding his cattle with no way to predict when he was going to be able to sell them. He also understood that the plants are designed to process animals of a certain size and once they grew beyond that weight, his livestock would no longer be accepted.
“It's just so hard to know how to try to make the game plan of how to market cattle, how to buy cattle, how to you sell the cattle to the customer,” Pete said. “There is so much volatility that people are scared and nervous about how to even try to do business.”
Facing such great uncertainty, Pete called upon Congress for help to repair the food supply chain and recover the agriculture industry’s lost markets.
“There’s enough inventory to have beef for the consumer, but getting it from the feed yards to the retail outlet or to the restaurant has gotten very hard to do,” Pete said. “The big thing that Congress can do to help us farmers is try to help us get that meat to market in any way they can.”
No matter the challenge, Capital Farm Credit has been there to support Pete and Scarmardo Cattle Company, doing everything they can to help him make it through tough times just like these.