Tampa, Florida (CNN) Beef market sales have been falling at a rapid pace in recent months, as beef producers have been forced to shut down or shutter operations due to a shortage of meat.
But with the market expected to open later this week, there are concerns about whether the market can remain healthy.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around the market, and the market is still going to be affected by the fact that it’s closed,” Chris Riddell, president of the Tampa Bay Meat Market, told CNNMoney.
Riddell says his market is operating at a loss of about $1.5 million in the first six months of 2017, but is projected to grow by about 50% over the next five years.
The meat market closed on Monday after two weeks of operating at its peak, Riddella told CNN.
That leaves about 200 people working at the market for an annual average of about 30 hours a week.
“If we had closed earlier and it wasn’t for the government shutdown and the fact of the economy, the market would be open and the industry would be doing well,” Riddello said.
The Tampa Bay market, one of the largest in the United States, was shut down for a few days earlier this year.
The meat market was shuttered due to the shutdown of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Rural Food Service.
The closure of the market left some meatpacking workers without jobs.
The workers were told that they could apply for new jobs at nearby meat processing plants.
The federal government eventually allowed the workers to return to their jobs.
“It’s a real sad state of affairs, and it’s not the market’s fault,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo and other meatpackers in the Tampa area have seen the market struggle as the shutdowns have made it harder to meet demand.
“We’re a large city, and we’re not a big meatpacking city,” Rizo said, “and we’re seeing that the market has gone down in volume.”
Some local residents have also expressed concern about the food supply.
“People are concerned about the quality of the meat being served, and that they don’t have access to fresh produce,” Risso said of the community.
“It’s just been a slow trickle, and there’s not a lot going on.”