JAMESVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — We’ve seen the heart-wrenching images of dairy farmers forced to dump out their milk during the pandemic as the demand for their product changes. But what about the impact on other farms?
Elly’s Acres in Jamesville is a sheep and wool farm, selling meat and wool products. But right now, that wool, which adds up to thousands of pounds and dollars, is sitting in a barn with no market to sell it in and the owner of the farm is worried selling the meat will become an even greater issue as well.
For the past three years, John Lemondes says the wool market has been either closed or damaged because of the war on tariffs with China. But now, COVID-19 is making the issue worse. Lemondes gives his wool to the Finger Lakes Wool Pool, which is closed right now.
The wool would then be processed and sold through the supply chain. Much of that wool, about 70 percent, goes to China. But since there’s no market, that side of the business is at a standstill, leaving farmers no choice but to store or get rid of the product.
“In a good year, the value of the wool will pay for the cost of sheering plus a little extra, so it still is a value-added product that you do gain some profit from. Now, in the current situation, it is costing us money. Our operating costs are staying the same or increasing, yet the value of our product is either nonexistent or significantly decreased,” Lemondes said.
Lemondes sells most of the lamb meat over retail, but some are sold at farmers’ markets and restaurants.
He says the markets have been slow or cancelled and his sales to restaurants have stopped as well, as they’re all closed for dining. Since his product is seasonal, once he goes to process the meat this summer, that’s when he will really see the impact.
“We won’t realize the true impact until we get to July, August, September when we would start slaughtering,” said Lemondes.