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All in the family…Matthew and Sherri Vig and daughter Stormy
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All in the family…Matthew and Sherri Vig and daughter Stormy

Uncertainty around retail meat supplies leads to online marketing between consumers, producers


F.Ganje - April 21, 2020

STURGIS, SD – There is a lot said about buying local.  Now, more than ever before it’s critical for families, friends and individuals to be able to source ways to keep food on the table.

So when segments of the food processing industry are being hard hit with COVID-19 making it necessary for them to either close or sharply curtail operations, and meat cases in grocery stores are sparse,  where can consumers find a steady, safe supply of meat?

Turns out, right next door.  South Dakota Local Meat Producers is a Facebook page created by Sherri Vig of Vale.

“I have a friend in Rapid City who messaged me one day looking to buy a half a beef and half a pig.  She couldn’t find anyone that had any for sale,” recalls Vig. “I went on line to Facebook pages of ranchers and farmers I know, telling them what she was looking for.  The feedback from not only producers but others who were wanting to buy product was just unreal. It got me to thinking there was a breakdown between producers and buyers.”

Vig says on line interest in the Facebook page has exploded. “What blew me away was that in the first few days of the page being up, we had 500 people added to the group.”

How best to monitor postings to insure credibility and an adherence to food safety regulations was thought out, says Vig.

“When someone comes into the group, I let them know live animal sales are not an option. Folks selling  can recommend USDA inspected custom butcher shops they use themselves. For the most part, page members self-regulate themselves.”

Buying local and farmers markets have long been niche segments in the economy.  But with the current world pandemic, interest in sourcing locally raised food is surging.

“I’ll be shocked if the interest declines after this (COVID-19) is all over,” says Vig. “I believe that once people get started being able to find things locally, it will continue.”

Based on the popularity of the South Dakota Local Meat Producers Facebook page, Vig has hopes to develop a web site that would be designed to further enhance connecting consumers and local producers.

“We’re looking to grow and expand business between local customers and local farmers and ranchers.  I hope that the momentum continues in supporting local.

If there is any silver-lining to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s that it has shown how interdependent populations are and how creativity can make all the difference in how people can sustain themselves.

Find out more at the member-driven South Dakota Local Meat Producers on Facebook.

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