We have been living with this pandemic for, what now, 11 months and counting. At first we were all scared and rightfully so. But, now, after what seems like forever, will life ever be the way it was before all of this. Honestly, I have no idea, but I do cling to hope. The hope that we come out of this a stronger, more resilient, more empathic, and overall, better people than when this all started. The only thing I noticed that remained constant was the fact that you, the hard working farmers of America, kept getting up and continue to get up every morning to produce the food that my family puts on the table every day. I sincerely and wholeheartedly, thank you! However, I am also worried about you and I pray for a brighter and better future for you.
I think many people have failed to realize that this pandemic has hit an already struggling community of people and increased it by ten fold. Most of us can’t see past our own little bubble that we have created. In all seriousness, we all live in a small bubble, not moving too often outside of it and with the onset of Covid-19, that bubble has gotten a whole lot smaller. Nine months later and we still rarely leave our houses for anything. Man, we are getting stir crazy.
2020-What damage has it caused?
When 2020 started back in January, there was a bright hope that this was going to be our year. Agriculture had a brighter outlook than previous years. The weather was predicted to be better for farmers and income to be made by farmers was looking like it was going up. Little did we know or expect, the next big hit. You were busy making plans for planting, summer, harvest, etc. And the rest of the world was busy planning as well. Why on Earth, should we have expected gloom and doom.
March definitely was roaring like a lion this year as it came in with fury, however it did NOT go out like a sheep. It went out with a huge bang! Businesses, schools, restaurants, nearly everything shutting down. The entire world was turned upside down, we saw so much chaos going on not only in our communities, but in the entire world. We all panicked and caused even more distress by buying out the grocery stores.
Initially, Covid didn’t seem to affect farmers but as this pandemic has played out, it wasn’t long before the farmers began to feel the impact. We were all told to social distance, increase washing our hands, and do things outdoors. Well, farmers had it made with the fact that they already work outdoors and lots of tasks around the farm are naturally socially distanced. You just had to make sure that you were implementing extra sanitary precautions. Then, it seemed like someone flipped a switch, and you were being told to dump your milk, throw out your produce, euthanize your livestock. You were being told this because the processing plants were seeing an increase in cases and having to shut down, even though they were considered essential. You had no choice but to take drastic measures to weather the storm that was and still is upon us. This caused and may still be causing you more financial losses and more emotional distress. However, farmers are resilient, many communities banned together and created dairy drives and made the decision to have items at farmer’s markets or selling their products directly to the customer, thus being able to stay afloat.
As I watched the prices in the stores go up and my grocery bill nearly doubled-and not just because every meal was at home now but because prices had gone way up as well, I also noticed that my friends that farm would post on Facebook, that the prices they were receiving were still dropping and they are concerned for their farm’s future. How can that be? We need to be taking care of our farmers. How do they come out of this?
2021-New Year, Renewed Hope
As we are in the beginning of the new year, and this pandemic is still rearing its ugly head, I wonder what the future holds-not only for myself, but for the farming community. I ran across the hashtag #stillfarming recently, and it hit home. Meaning that farmers are strong, resilient and will withstand this crisis!
While the Covid crisis continues to plague us, it has also benefited areas that we didn’t even know were lacking. Farmers are now using more digital technology on the farm, allowing you to be more proactive and preemptive when issues arise, thus going to be a money saver in the future, for sure. It also has brought customers directly to the farmers for their meat, produce, and speciality products. I hope this trend continues in the new year. I much rather have my hard earned dollars in the hands of my local farmers, rather than a big box store that doesn’t seem to care. Another positive, has been telemedicine, which offers a farmer, who doesn’t have typical office hours the ability to seek out medical advice, especially when it comes to mental health doctors, a wider availability of hours and more privacy. We also have seen an increase in online auctions for livestock and I think this will continue as more farmers use digital technology on their farms.
The hope for 2021, that I can see is that while we are still going to be seeing this virus, our communities will have a better appreciation of who produces our food, where it comes from and how it is handled/processed. I pray that there will be more governmental help to our struggling farmers. That there will be an increase in exports of our goods once again to foreign countries. That the “new-found” idea of buying local, will continue to grow and prosper. That instead of the large processing companies dictating whether or not you dump or toss your harvest, milk, or euthanize your livestock, that you and your fellow community of farmers will continue to donate the excess to others in need. I saw this during this past summer and thought it was wonderful and I hope it continues.
While optimism on the farm may be uncertain, maybe even troubling for some, I do believe that this coming year will bring a renewed hope because you, our nation’s farmers will prevail. Weathering the storms is what you do best! Here’s to you and may 2021 find you many blessings and much peace.