How Have Farmers Been Affected; And How We Can Help
It is clear that COVID-19 has made significant changes to not only our economy, but our daily lives. There has been both a spike in consumer concerns regarding safety, and a crisis for small businesses who are unsure if they'll make it to the other side. If you are reading this, you may already have an inkling on the specific business that Farmers Market On Wheels strives to carry through onto the other side: local small farmers.
While it is easy to imagine the hardships small businesses are going through, farmers have a unique situation involving the pandemic and the issues it has brought on. We at FMOW are hoping to bring these issues to light, so that our customers and potential customers can recognize the importance of supporting their local small farmers.
So how exactly has the pandemic affected farmers across the nation?
According to a report earlier during the pandemic by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, small locally-based farms across the U.S. could see a decline in sales up to $688.7 million.
On top of the expected decrease in sales, many farmers are having to destroy the crops they've spent an entire season to grow, because usual clients like restaurants and farmers markets are no longer in need of their produce. After the pain of seeing months of work go to waste, some farmers have either started planting again in hopes that the economy will recover, or give up planting since the cost of production is too high in relation to the profit.
The amount of waste is shocking. According to a New York Times article, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, has estimated that farmers are dumping up almost 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. Pictures have also surfaced of humongous piles of potatoes and trenches full of onions, waiting to either rot into the ground or graciously find a home.
Through all the heartbreak and anxiety, farmers still remain headstrong in finding ways to deal with the current issue as best they can. Part of their solution, however, relies on the consumers. Community-supported agriculture programs, or CSAs, have seen a rise during the pandemic. Consumers are realizing the potential is buying directly from farmers through delivery, first because of safety, but also to maintain the senses of clean-eating and local support that are characteristic of farmers markets. As our farm Maxi Greens said, there is more trust in knowing your produce comes straight from the ground, rather than days on a conveyor belt and hot trucks. And that is especially the case now with increased health concerns.
Though the future seems uncertain for many farmers, including our local Bay Area farms, there is still hope that the community will back up these hardworking small businesses that provide them fresh food for their families and loved ones. The lesson is, we must be there for each other during hardship: we are all in this together.