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Local farmers becoming more important

By Rose Vaughn

Cooperative Extension intern, Davie County Center

With all the changes taking place in America such as in schools, workplaces, churches, restaurants, stores, and medical facilities, it can be easy to overlook one of the most crucial elements of our lives: food.

Despite the shutdowns across the nation, farmers have had to leave their houses to go to work every day. Crops need to be planted on time, animals need to be cared for, and most importantly, people need to be fed. Farmers have taken on the responsibility to not only feed their own families, but all the families in the country. That’s a tough job even when we aren’t facing a pandemic.

Even while facing difficulties, farmers are eager to supply products to people in America.

When the news of the pandemic hit America hard, many processing plants had to shut the doors or scale back production. That included plants that package and ship hogs, beef, dairy and other products. The situation put farmers in a difficult situation.

With no place to pass on their products, many were forced to dump milk, euthanize animals or stretch their space, budgets and time thin to keep animals that should have already been sold. Even more, the closing of retail stores and restaurants took away much of the business for some farmers leaving them with a lot of extra food.

However, the farmers of America have been extremely resilient in their efforts to maintain the supply of food in stores as well as use the food they struggled to find a place for. Many donated their products to food banks or pantries. Some even tried to switch their systems from selling on a large-scale basis to stores and restaurants to selling small amounts to individual consumers.

Processing plants have since reopened or begun to reopen meaning the issue of food shortages never even had the chance to transpire. Apart from all the challenges farmers were facing, the strength of the food supply and agricultural industry in the United States has proved itself during the peak of the crisis. The country did not see significant food shortages or gaps in normal diets. Farmers were able to fulfill the demand of the country even with those challenges at hand.

Local farmers made comments on the situation and the role they played in maintaining the food supply.

Brent Barnes from Barnes Family Ag, said that although there were smaller amounts of some products such as beef or pork due to processing plant shutdowns, there was an abundance of other products made available to consumers. In that way, he stated, the strength and reliability of the industry was shown.

Another farmer – Holly Miller from Cherry Hill Farm – said that the crisis situation has been beneficial. The traffic in their stores increased. She explained that it seems like amidst the uncertainties of the current situation, people have begun to appreciate and think about where their food comes from.

In a stressful time where we feel like we’ve lost our normal way of life, farmers have kept our grocery stores stocked and our bellies full. Given the circumstances, we should be even more appreciative and aware of the role farmers play in our lives. Providing a basic and crucial need for America is not an easy feat, particularly in a nation-wide crisis.

You can support local farmers here in Davie County by visiting https://davie.ces.ncsu.edu/davie-local-farms/.

Be sure to thank a farmer today.