KFB Candid Conversation with Kentucky Farm Bureau 2nd Vice President Sharon FurchesPosted on Apr 6, 2020
KFB Candid Conversation presents a discussion about the topical issues facing the agricultural industry and rural communities in a question and answer format. In this column, Kentucky Farm Bureau Second Vice President Sharon Furches discusses farming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, would you give our readers an overview of your family farming operation?
I live Murray, Kentucky, where both myself and husband were born and raised. We have a grain farm here, which my father-in-law started when he came home from World War II back in 1946. So, we've been at it for almost 39 years, and we live right here on the farm. It’s a great way to live and it’s been a great way to raise our family, and we've enjoyed it so much. It's springtime and we're getting ready to start planting corn. We've got some canola and wheat in the ground right now, and we're more concerned about the weather right now, and we'll look forward to going on, business as usual, as far as the farm is concerned.
Farm families are well-known for working through adversity. Has this situation caused you to do anything differently in your day-to-day activities on the farm?
We're still hauling crop from last year and it's certainly impacting that, but our guys are working, they just have to stay in their trucks when they get to the elevator in order to follow the proper protocol. We also have four or five people working out in the shop where it's not difficult to keep your social distance. So, we are trying to keep things working normally while gearing up for a planting season. We’re just waiting for it to dry out, and it will again. Whether the virus was here or not, we'd be doing the same things weather-wise and worrying about that aspect of it as we've always done. We will get a crop in the ground, we always have.
Would you talk about the importance of our farms, especially during this time period?
I hear the word “essential” being used to describe the agriculture industry since the onset of COVID-19. We've known we were “essential” all along, and now everyone else sees it." That has kind of been a blessing in disguise, and in these times, I guess we're looking for every kind of silver lining we can get. But it does reinforce to people all across the country, how valuable our farms are. For the folks who have raced to the grocery store and wondered if they would have enough food or where their food was coming from and if it was safe, those are not issues that we have had to worry about for a long, long time, and we are so blessed in that respect. But the nation's farmers are still hard at it and will be.
We have seen the public hoard certain things in fear they will be confined for long periods of time during this disease outbreak. As a farm owner and operator, what would you say to the general public, right now, about their food supply?
First, they should know that farmers aren’t quitting; we're not going to stop planting just because of this virus out there. We're still working hard, and we know we can produce enough food for this country and for other countries as well. We have a huge export market, and that's again just another wonderful blessing that we have. We hope the rest of the country and the rest of the world will see how capable the agriculture industry is in this country. In this age of social media, which can be both a curse and a blessing, we are seeing a lot of incorrect information, not only about the coronavirus, but also about agriculture, in general. The members of Kentucky Farm Bureau have always worked hard to get the proper information out, as well as volunteering so much of their time in their local communities. Every time we see this good information going out over the many social media platforms, or we see some of the great things our members are doing, I think it's a win for Kentucky agriculture and for agriculture across this country.
This crisis has brought renewed attention to the value of farmers. Do you think that will continue once we have gotten past COVID-19?
I hope it will, and to be honest, I think every one of us is under a spotlight, and we have the opportunity to decide what we're going do with that. We have the chance, in agriculture, to really put ourselves in a good light and make sure that others see that, as well. But really, that's what we do already. I think we're used to that. I hope we enjoy telling our story even louder and to a larger audience as this moves forward. You know, farmers and folks that are involved in agribusinesses are a good steady group of people. They're just salt-of-the-earth people, and I think that’s really important, in the world that we live in today, but certainly when we're in a time of crisis, whatever that may be. It’s really comforting to people to know that there are folks like that among them. I hope we just keep telling our good story to our friends and neighbors and to everyone who will listen. I feel confident that the American farmer will be noticed as one of the groups of people who have had a very positive impact on this country during a time of crisis, and at all times.
What words of encouragement could you offer to KFB members and the general public as it relates to our agricultural industry not only for this current time but for the foreseeable future?
We've all had to get creative during this time, in how we interact with our friends and neighbors, and how we communicate. But we are fortunate to have all the technology we have to do so. And it's so important to check on friends and neighbors. As an organization, we’ve been in stressful situations before. We've had good times and bad times, but we've got 100 years of experience behind us in Farm Bureau and we are going to move forward and get through this together. For those worried about your food supply, don’t. Farm families across this state, and throughout this country, are working hard to ensure our food supply will remain the biggest and the best in the world.