By Austin Gellings, AEM Agriculture Services Manager

COVID-19 and AgIn periods of uncertainty, it can be difficult to find any sort of constants or norms. However, during these times that we’re all living through currently, there’s one constant that has not changed. That constant is farming.

Life on the farm never stops. Crops still need to be planted, animals still need to be cared for, and people still need to eat. While farmers can often be the forgotten part of the food supply chain, now – perhaps more than ever – it’s clear they’re still here. And they deserve to be recognized on the same level as the amazing men and women who are keeping other essential parts of our lives going through their work in healthcare, grocery stores, law enforcement, and so many other areas.

It can be easy to cast farming in a negative light sometimes. When the severity of COVID-19 was first realized, and people began to flood to grocery stores and strip shelves dry, it was easy to blame the farmer for the shortage of food. However, that blame was misplaced. It was a supply chain issue, as most stores were not prepared for the sudden surge in demand that took place. While all food begins with the farmer, several steps are required before a final product finds its way to store shelves.

Farmers are producing now more than ever before, and they continue to work day and night through these uncertain times. This is not a “new normal” for farmers, either. It’s something they’ve been doing for centuries. Perseverance is defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” If that doesn’t define farming – especially now – then I don’t know what else does.

With everything happening in the world today, it would be easy for me to take a pessimistic view toward the difficulties farmers are facing as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. However, I believe that, despite all of the negatives happening around us, it often helps to look through the darkness and try to see the light.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the positives.

A farmer made a case for looking at the bright side of things during a recent webinar put on by Farm Journal. The first positive he mentioned was family, and why it’s so important to spend time with one’s significant other or children. With school being out in many places, many kids are home for the foreseeable future. Most extra-curricular activities have been cancelled as well. This provides opportunities to sit down and play family games, or work side-by-side to complete tasks on the farm. Whatever the case may be, the COVID-19 crisis offers us the chance to grow closer and create lasting memories with one another, interjecting some much-needed positivity into what can often feel like a hopelessly insurmountable situation.

Another notable positive is fuel prices are lower in some places than they have been in 17 years. This means lower cost inputs during an important time of the year where most farmers are just getting ready to plant. This is a much-needed break in an industry where those can sometimes be hard to come by. Plus, American farming is starting to be seen in a whole new light. As is the case in the medical industry with supplies, there seems to be a newfound importance for food grown within the United States. As a result, farmers are becoming more and more important with time, especially as society begins to realize the value of self-sustaining practices.

In uncertain times, it’s incredibly easy to take a pessimistic view of the world. However, there are always positives to be found. And it’s in focusing on those positives that we can make it through this COVID-19 crisis.

Tomorrow will come, and the sun will continue to shine. But even though there are positives to be found, that doesn’t mean farmers don’t need our help. In fact, a recent study by Farm Market iD found that 71% of farmers wanted good and open communication from their suppliers.

This is why we have to come together – not just as an industry, but also as people helping to support one another. We all have a part to play, and there’s no better way to start than casting light on all of the wonderful work done by our farmers.

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