A Different World; The Same Mission While dealing with COVID-19, Farm Families are Still Doing What They Do Best

Posted on Mar 23, 2020

A few short weeks ago, most citizens in Kentucky, and across the country, were preparing for spring and all the activities the new season would bring. But since the onset of COVID-19, the coronavirus, most have hunkered down close to home hoping to wait this pandemic out.

But there are exceptions such as the medical personnel who are so vitally important, and first responders ever present on the job. Some professions are more important now than ever before.

The same is true about the American farmer, said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney.

“The mission of our agriculture industry hasn’t changed with the spread of the coronavirus. We still have the same desire to plant, grow and harvest the safest, most abundant food supply in the world,” he said. “For most of us, we feel as though it is our duty, especially in times like these.”

Haney emphasized that the industry not only includes the families with “boots-on-the-ground” farming operations, but it is the processors, distributors and the markets which are all a part of the nation’s food chain.

“The people who work in these areas are still hard at work making sure there are no glitches in our food supply,” he said. “They are essential to the security of this nation.”

That word has spread across the country thanks to the efforts of farm organizations throughout the U.S.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said there is a lot beyond our control and still unknown as we face this crisis, but we can focus on and be faithful with the tasks at hand.

“For farmers and ranchers our calling hasn’t changed, though its importance hits closer to home in times like these: we are committed to rising every day to grow and harvest the food we all depend on,” he said.

Certainly, the ag industry isn’t without a set of challenges as is the case for most American industries.

AFBF has outlined several of those concerns including getting enough migrant laborers to the U.S. through the H-2A guest-worker program. The organization noted that the ag industry needs more than a quarter-million of these workers each year and getting them here could be a challenge as the State Department announced the suspension of all processing of new, non-emergency visa applications in Mexico.

Also, on the list of concerns is that of the supply chain. As more regulations go into place involving social distancing and retail closures, AFBF emphasized that, “meat packing plants, dairy processors, ethanol plants and other processing facilities all play vital roles in delivering the food and fuel Americans will continue to depend on in the long days ahead. Additional impacts could include access to seed, fertilizer and crop protection tools farmers need to grow a healthy crop.”

Of course, market concerns have been an issue for farm families over the past several years during a downturn in the ag economy. However, as the U.S. struggles through the turmoil COVID-19 has caused to the world-wide economy, “maintaining stable and fair markets is especially critical at times like these,” noted the AFBF.

On an upside, the federal government’s list of essential industries does include agriculture. Haney said the ag industry is ready to meet the challenges of this current national crisis.

“Facing adversity is nothing new to the American farmer. Over the last several decades we have weathered natural disasters, world wars, depression and recessions and other disease outbreaks, and we’re not about to quit now,” he said. “It’s our duty to ensure the security of our food supply and that’s what we will do now, and for as long as there is soil to till and a need to eat.”