Farmers bypass meatpacking plants selling to customers to avoid euthanizing

A Des Moines man who recorded a show pig's treatment at the Iowa State Fair has been banned from the fair for life. (USDA)
A Des Moines man who recorded a show pig's treatment at the Iowa State Fair has been banned from the fair for life. (USDA)(KWQC)
Published: May. 29, 2020 at 6:24 PM CDT
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Hog farmers have begun selling directly to customers, bypassing meatpacking plants slowed by the pandemic, helping to avoid euthanizing animals.

This week, Iowa announcing this week, it will help farmers out by some of the cost of their disposal. But it’s not all doom and gloom for these stranded animals, there is some hope.

Bill Luckey has been getting a lot of calls lately from people wanting to buy his pigs, and it all started a simple message.

“I said, ‘hey, we have to move some pigs pretty quick, let’s put something on Facebook’.”

That was a few weeks ago, and the calls haven’t stopped.

“IT just sort of exploded after that, to tell you the truth,” said Luckey, within four days it had more than 2000 shares, and was getting 10, 12 calls an hour.”

It’s a lot of work, but also a relief. Luckey’s doing his best to avoid euthanizing, which means finding a way to make it work without the packing plants.

“The packing plant I did go to they shutdown for a week, so they got backed up pretty fast and the week before that they were reduced capacity,” said Luckey. “So were really behind getting pigs out.”

With the price of grocery-store meat soaring and shelves quickly being emptied, Luckey says people want other options.

“We’ve had a lot of people call from all over the area,” said Luckey. “Even out of state and they pick up live pigs or I can help them do a little processing on them.”

Processing your own meat isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to learn there’s a way.

“We do about anything we can to help people with this because for a lot of people are unexperienced in how to do this and they just need a little bit of help and a little bit of guidance,” said Luckey, noting that perhaps the pandemic will forever change the way some pigs are processed.

“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘hey, this is fun, I kind of like doing this,’ so I might have some repeat customers coming back throughout the year.”

If you're interested in purchasing and processing a hog you’ll need to consider transportation. For the most part, Luckey’s customers have been using trailers, or pickup trucks, with a cage to safely stow the animal.

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