An online journal which chronicles the who, what, when, where, why and how
in our unique corner of the Virginia countryside.

© 2020 Middleburg Mystique

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Number 55


It’s common knowledge that COVID-19 severely disrupted the food supply chain, but new information sheds light on how the pandemic widened the gap between what consumers pay at the store and what farmers receive for their products.

According to a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the farm-to-retail price spread hit record levels during the pandemic—particularly for the beef and pork industries.

“If you look at the farm-to-retail price spread for beef, in June it was $5.21 per pound, and that is the highest it’s been ever since the data was collected beginning back in 1970,” said Michael Nepveux, an AFBF economist. “You see a similar story in pork. So the farm-to-retail spread for pork hit its record in June at $3.65 per pound.”

Nepveux attributes the spread to labor issues and restrictions at processing plants that created a shortage of beef and pork. Wholesale and retail prices increased, but because there was an oversupply of animals that couldn’t be processed, the prices for live animals declined.

“The record farm-to-retail price spreads for cattle and hogs in 2020 have aggravated a lot of livestock producers that produce and deliver animals to the commodity-level supply chains,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Bruce Stanger, a Montgomery County beef cattle farmer and member of the VFBF state board and Livestock Advisory Committee, said he believes the worst has passed, but it’s “a shame that we always get the short end of the stick” when it comes to prices.

“We’ve got the animals and we have to sell them, and we’re sort of at the mercy of whoever’s buying.”

Banks added that, as processors adjust to the changes caused by the pandemic and implement protocols to protect workers, meat processing volumes are rebounding.

“The more animals that can be processed and the more meat that can be sold will help farmers see improved prices for their livestock at the markets,” he said.

As market volatility, unpredictable weather and loss of resources in rural areas have impacted farm families, farm supporters are looking for solutions. The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition is a Virginia Cooperative Extension program housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education.

A mid-Septembere webinar, titled “Spotlight on Farm Safety, Health, and Wellness Toolkit for Managing Farm Stress and Mental Health,” covered the most recent resources developed for farmers and service providers by Extension’s Farm
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Second Chapter Books sales
Photo © Vicky Moon

Sales at Second Chapter Books were swift and sure for “Garden Secrets of Bunny Mellon.” The three authors, Linda Jane Holden, Thomas Lloyd and Bryan Huffman, were on hand to sign many copies.


Upperville Library
Photo © Vicky Moon

Meanwhile, while on the subject of books, there’s something about the small stone library in the village of Upperville that makes it difficult not to stop and take a photo.

We hear that a book about the village is in the works. The window boxes are always in season.

Blackburn Architects PC


Bryce Lingo and Snowden Clarke
Photo © Vicky Moon

Bryce Lingo, owner of Orange Hill Farm, and Snowden Clarke went off for a ride one recent morning.


road sign
Photo © Vicky Moon

A tip of the mask to the Middleburg Police Department for keeping us on our toes. Chief A.J. Panebianco and his team did a fabulous job with handling Halloween and they’re looking forward to the Holiday season.


Mark Metzger
Photo © Vicky Moon

Mark Metzger, owner of Highcliffe Clothiers, takes Sunday morning off to catch up on reading the newspaper near his in-town Middleburg residence. It also just so happens to be steps away from his shop.

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