WISNER - Nearly all aspects of the Nebraska economy have been impacted by the novel coronavirus and the agriculture sector is no different.

Herb Albers Feedlots north of Wisner is dealing with COVID-19 like many other farmers and ranchers in the region.

Todd Schroeder works at the feedlots and says that day-to-day operations are mostly normal, but says the problems begin on the other side of the production chain.

Small changes have been made to daily operations like providing on-site lunches and a greater emphasis on disinfecting equipment.

He says even if people start to get sick with COVID-19 at the feedlots, work needs to continue.

“We have to get the cattle fed every day. So if you have less people, maybe there’s some details that may or may not get done. Maybe you don’t get to clean pens as often or something like that. But the core business of it, the animal care the animal husbandry, and the feeding of the animals...that’s going to happen no matter what.” Schroeder says.

Herb Albers Feedlot sits on around 200 acres and feeds on average around 19,000 head of cattle.

But Schroeder says recently, there have been little to no feeder cattle coming in.

Schroeder also says with the packing house industry slowing down, they have had a hard time getting cattle sold.

“Normally this time of year, we would be coming out of the yearling market and getting ready to sell our calf feds and this year, we are still selling cattle that were supposed to be gone in March.” 

If COVID-19 disrupts the market into the summer, Schroeder says it will impact the price of calves this fall and further hamper local economies.

“If the rancher doesn’t make any money he’s not going to go spend as much money in town. If we don’t make as much money, we aren’t able to maybe give the bonuses or do the things we would like to do in the operation. You just naturally slow down."

Schroeder has confidence in the midwest food supply chain, but thinks it’s under stress. 

He says all sides of food production need to work together to get through these tough times.