Farmers across the US were struggling before the pandemic. This could help us survive (opinion)
The entire industry is reshaping itself. In recent years, Americans have gradually come to spend more money eating food outside the home than eating food in their own kitchens. But when restaurants around the country were forced to close their doors, more Americans began cooking their meals at home.
As a result, the food supply chain has had to transform its packaging and delivery. Milk that was packaged in small boxes for school lunches now needs to be packaged in gallon containers that a family will consume together at home. Fresh fruit and vegetables that ripened and were to be delivered to restaurants across the country were left in the fields with no immediate place to go. As the supply chain is forced to change, there has been a surplus of certain food items, forcing some farmers to dump the excess and lose the profit.
I appreciate the federal government’s help, but these are only temporary fixes. I firmly believe the US farmer is the most efficient producer of feed grains and livestock in the world. And if we have free and open markets, unimpeded by tariffs and other trade restrictions, I am confident we can profitably feed a more populous world. What we producers really need are functioning and open markets. I want to grow my crops and sell them to willing buyers — wherever they may be. I want to trade.
The coronavirus has taught us all that a lot of things are beyond our control. Yet farming is well within mine — and so I hope to remain in the fields, doing my job at the start of yet another new and confusing season.