Farmers worry not as many turkeys will be gobbled up amid COVID-19 pandemic

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FALKVILLE, Ala. — Thanksgiving is still over a month away, but many local turkey farmers, are fearful that not enough of their flock will be gobbled up this year.

Farmers are worried that predicted smaller Thanksgiving gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic will mean less demand for their products.

“It’s a big concern to us, Thanksgiving dinners is one of our biggest selling points of the year,” said Jesse Murphy, co-owner of DSR Farms in Falkville.

Murphy’s worries have only been compounded by a recent message from Dr. Anthony Fauci, warning that large thanksgiving meals could act as COVID-19 superspreader events this holiday season.

“The thought of hundreds, if not potentially thousands of customers not purchasing a few things from us for the holiday meals, I mean that could be really detrimental for our business,” said Murphy.

Farmers are also concerned that those who do choose to hold a Thanksgiving meal, will do it on a much smaller scale.

“Within the farming community, especially within our social media groups and things, there are many farmers that have gotten written requests for smaller turkeys than they would normally get because people know there’s going to be a smaller number of people at their Thanksgiving dinners,” said Murphy.

For Murphy and other Turkey farmers, smaller turkeys equate to smaller profits.

“We sell that turkey to the consumer by the pound and so of course we want all the turkeys to be as big and fat as possible because that’s where our margins come in. That difference between what it costs us to feed it and have it processed and packaged versus what the customer pays,” said Murphy.

For now Murphy says it’s just a game of wait and see. So far the farmer says he has sold around 60-70 percent of his turkeys. That percentage is much smaller than what he was hoping to have sold at this time of the year. Murphy says during a normal year he likely would have been sold out already, and potentially raising additional turkeys to meet additional demand.

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