The Indicator from Planet Money - Turkey Business

COVID-19-related travel and get-together restrictions are impacting small businesses across the U.S. this holiday season. The Indicator talks to a turkey farmer about how the pandemic has affected business this year.

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The indicator from Planet Money, I'm Stacey Vanek Smith and I'm Carlos Garcia Thanksgiving is just around the corner just a couple of weeks away the day before turkey day is usually one of the biggest travel days of the year in the US as families cross the country to get together watch football and yeah get into a huge argument. I don't know what you mean though is going to be pretty different travel is expected to be way down. A lot of people are just staying in and that of course is having a big effect on businesses across the us including a lot of small businesses. Exactly. This recession is really disproportionately hammered small businesses. They've been really suffering and they're sure on the indicator. We are going to be speaking with small business owners and their workers and we're going to be highlighting some of the obstacles that they've been experiencing and also some of their Innovations in getting over those obstacles.

Small business owners across the country getting their stories and what things are looking like for them and this week we're talking with Travis Madison. He owns Ridgecrest turkey farm in Brockport New York turkeys. Of course, this is the turkey time of year are Americans Cardiff eat 50 million turkeys on Thanksgiving and we feel it. Yes. I feel like I myself shall we speak with Travis about his farm what business has been like and what he likes to eat on Thanksgiving.

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Cubs Madison owner of Ridgecrest Turkey Farm. Thank you so much for talking with me at so the person I wanted to ask you just you know, how many turkeys do you have higher rates from a day-old chick all the way up to 20 weeks of age when we process them for Thanksgiving now, there's extra Grace and kind of all outside cuz it's cooling down now. So yeah, there's about four acres of pasture. They're all outside running around so it's kind of windy. So they're too fat to fly, but they just kind of like wattle and flap their wings once it's windy out and then just look like while around the time they were on but they look like it looks like a big field covered in white spots and feel like to look at this. I mean, this is your family farm. These are your animals like what does it feel like to deceive him?

Like this year is I just bought this farm for my my parents. But this is the second year of the fully running this operation on my own. I just got done and I don't know what's a lot for stress now, like I see em all outside and I'd rather just like everything I own is invested into this right now, you're beastly watching your savings running around what I should have made him a lot of money just disappear and feed bills and things that I'll never see back in a normal year. Like what what would your business be right now? Because we're getting up onto Thanksgiving and Christmas and the time when everybody orders turkeys right now, we should be almost sold out.

Wow, where this case this year is were by 30% behind where we should be for sale. We've never had a year that we're going to see you like this year. What are orders like this year a 10-pound turkey is what I get a phone call for a lately. But I just I can't produce a 10-pound turkey a country. It's a size, but she cat there's no meat on a 10-pound turkey breast up. The kids are coming back from college and the family doesn't want to get together and with in Monroe County here in New York leaving now just place like another restriction on us. There were so similar restriction like not used to have a gathering cell.

And that's that's like coming right at the moment so we can usually turn a good profit. It's just a lot of work a lot of investment and we do it all ourselves and turn the good profit. But this year with sales being down at stopping a fact my cost for next year. I have to look at ways to decrease my cost in the figure out more safe Marketplace for these turkeys usually the price just to make it so I don't

See I can go back to producing more of my own feet and cut my costs down. And as of right now that's what's going to happen. Next year. We're going to be doing that but no idea where I'm at right now is higher than how you going to charge him. But with the prices of steblay the Commodities changed this the end of this year I had to so hopefully next year I get the price lower. I'm trying to sell them just so everybody can regular person, you know can afford a fresh turkey. Not a Frozen watch you typically go feed. Okay, and and what are you what do turkeys eat? Mostly ground corn substitute. And how much does it cost to Lake feed turkeys thousands more like a fully grain-fed.

turkey Stone heads

Yeah, it's going to be more fresh going to have a guy gets a higher fat content in it meeting is going to have for juices things like that. You've sold 3/4 that's still a quarter left to go. If if you don't sell a quarter of them, like what happens to the turkey is what are your options today? Actually, the problem was to Heaven fresh meat is I don't have the capabilities of freezing it. So most food banks won't take me unless it's frozen for you like trying to do anything them and you and that's her on the homeless shelters in Rochester for Thanksgiving dinner is we've been doing that and that's always a good cause I was going to do that this year and I'm sure and they don't know what they're have planned for what they're doing for those so

You figuring out where they're going to end up. So what I'm looking at right now is really just trying to find maybe some meat markets in the city that might want to buy them and cut them up and freeze them on their own to sell it later times or something like that or else they might be getting turned a dog food.

And what about you for your Thanksgiving? What are you doing? Are you going to eat turkey? I don't know. I just I don't know. I've never been a big better chicken. I guess I never got a big fan of you really either. So if you could timer sacrilege old school that I don't know, I guess I appreciate a Thanksgiving dinner right now. And what do I have had it this year? I'm ready to be used to look at a lot of turkey for right now. Yeah.

This episode of the indicator was produced by Darian woods with help from Gilly Moon. It was fact-checked by Sean. Saldania. Patty Hirsch is our editor and the indicator is the production of NPR.

What do we not know about turkey's like what are they like, so right now they're very mean they're ready to reap they come the age where they can reproduce and that's when they start to pick up that kind of thing and things like that. It's like high school or something to chase after you and if you turn your back that's like the times might try to fly out the Mike furrey at your scratchy or something.
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