Farmers discuss impact COVID-19 has made on food, agriculture industry
SALISBURY, Md. – For the past couple of months, the coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc across the United States. Especially on the food and agriculture industry.
“The American farmer has had an extremely difficult start to 2020. COVID has affected all of us. We’ve had struggles with labor, and climate, which had nothing to do with COVID, but just hand-in-hand it’s been a really tough year,” said The Frozen Farmer Owner and Evans Farms Co-Owner, Katey Evans.
on Thursday, Evans participated in a round table discussion with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and other food and ag leaders across the country to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.
“For us, there have been struggles. Fulfillment and replenishment have been a huge struggle,” said Evans.
Participants discussed empty grocery store shelves, difficulties with distributors, and the increase in prices for items like beef and pork after the pandemic caused food production plants across the country to close down.
“The other plants on the hog and the beef side, those prices are still up, and they’re going to be up. They’re going to be up for a while,” said local farmer, Virgil Shockley.
But there have been some positives that have come out of the pandemic as well as business owners find other innovative ways to cater to customers.
“For the first time ever we launched an online marketplace where customers can buy from the convenience of their home. They can select a pickup time just like Walmart pickup, or anything like that. It’s really giving the consumers a safer way to shop than being in the big box stores on foot,” said Evans.
And while the future of the industry remains uncertain, farmers here on the shore say they’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.
“We have a job to do and a responsibility to society to keep America fed,” said Evans.
On Thursday Sonny Perdue also announced a list of additional items that have been added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program after receiving feedback from agricultural producers and organizations. Those items include a number of fruits and vegetables like blackberries, brussel sprouts, beets, and even kale. Perdue says this change will, “Help offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic.”