Despite a nationwide meat shortage, business has been booming for two beef farms in Gardiner.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, shoppers had difficulty finding hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Now beef, pork and chicken shortages are starting to hit stores because COVID-19 outbreaks forced meat processing plants to shut down. Many employees at these plants tested positive for COVID-19, including some deaths, with the spread of the virus at least in part thought to be linked to the shoulder-to-shoulder processing lines at the plants. According to USA Today, more than 30 plants have closed in recent weeks.
Some grocery stores have responded to the meat shortage. Costco Wholesale Corp. has temporarily limited customers to a total of three packages of fresh beef, pork and poultry as well as Kroger Co., who have limited purchases of ground beef and fresh pork at some of its stores. Some fast food chains such as Wendy’s were reporting beef shortages as well.
Meat prices have skyrocketed amid high demand. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that consumers nationwide paid 2.6% more in April for groceries, the largest one-month jump since February 1974.
Amid these trying times, Full Moon Farm in Gardiner has seen increased sales. Customers have noticed the meat shortage at grocery stores and have brought their business to Full Moon Farm, where the meat is plentiful.
“It’s actually helped our farm…,” Full Moon Farm Owner Paul Colucci said regarding the nationwide meat shortage. “All of the sudden everybody realizes that the beef we want we can buy locally from the local farmer.”
Consumers can buy beef via the self-service store located on the farm. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the farm has seen a large uptick in beef production. They have been producing close to 3,000 pounds of beef a month recently, whereas pre-pandemic they produced roughly 2,000 pounds a month.
Full Moon Farm was established in 2000 in Gardiner by the Colucci family. Their initial goal was to raise high quality tasting meats in a humane setting, in harmony with nature.
What began on a five-acre parcel in Gardiner, quickly evolved into a cooperative farming project with their neighbors, which has restored over 1,000 acres of farmland in the Hudson Valley back to pastures and hay fields providing chemical-free hay to local farms and Full Moon’s animals throughout the winter months when it’s too cold to graze outside.
Like Full Moon Farm, Kiernan Farm in Gardiner has seen increased profits lately.
“We’re active in farmers markets and they are buying more,” said Thelma Kiernan, the farm’s co-owner. “Probably because they’re afraid that there’s going to be a shortage.”
Kiernan Farm’s land has been in continuous agricultural production since it was part of the larger Gertrude Bruyn patent of 1682. The hand hewn post and beam barn dates back to the Revolutionary War and the farmhouse can be dated back to the early 1800s.
In 1982 the Kiernan family took ownership of the 140-acre farmland. In the early years Kiernan Farm raised standardbred race horses and harvested hay. In 2005, a friend encouraged Marty and Thelma Kiernan to begin raising cattle and produce grass-fed beef.
Now the second generation of the Kiernan Family is making its mark. In 2010 Shane, Ryan and Keri planted a vineyard and have been harvesting wine grapes for Hudson Valley wineries.
When asked what was unique about their farm, both Colucci and Kiernan noted that their grass-fed and grass-finished cattle made them stand out from many beef farms.
“They’re really not meant to eat grain and corn, they’re really meant to just eat grass and hay,” Kiernan said. “That’s healthier for them and it’s healthier for the consumer.”