It only took a matter of a few days for a new reality to set in. The realization that there is a new normal. We are in the midst of life-changing events.
Businesses were forced to rework approaches to their model, most built over a number of years, in a matter of days. Many workers were faced with the prospect of unemployment, something that never crossed their minds before. Parents became homeschoolers overnight. Technology infrastructure was tested beyond its limits. Healthcare providers and first responders have carried the enormous weight of duty with the pressure and responsibility of family health concerns.
Have Americans learned more about how government regulations and red tape roadblocks prevent the delivery of solutions? FDA testing rules, food labeling rules, transportation rules, state to state commerce rules, and a myriad of healthcare rules have been exposed during this crisis.
Was the Shelter in Place order in Illinois to “flatten the curve” the right thing to do? History will tell. Much of the Shelter in Place order picked winners and losers through the determination of essential and nonessential industries and workers. No matter what the order stated, most people believe they are essential. Our farm, agricultural and horticultural workers certainly are.
Farming and agriculture have been seriously affected. Our area green industry has taken a big hit with a major chunk of our greenhouses, garden centers, farmers markets, and nurseries dependent on spring sales. Local small vegetable producers who have cultivated direct relationships with area restaurants and chefs face major challenges. Our state’s milk producers have suffered greatly as school lunch programs closed and restaurants were restricted. Livestock producers are seeing how breaks in the farm to-table- food chain create total disruption both on the farm and for supermarkets. Consumers have been affected as food access from restaurants and school lunch menus have migrated to a heavy emphasis of “at home” food consumption.
Society has become accustomed to being able to access avocados, bananas, grapefruit, broccoli, and grapes whenever we please, year-round. It is a shock to the system when choice and availability seems to be at risk. We have certainly learned the interconnected nature of our world. Just look at the logistics of the basic food chain…
- The consumer depends upon the supermarkets/restaurants for food and products.
- The supermarkets/restaurants depend upon transportation (and drivers) to deliver the food and products.
- The transportation industry depends upon manufacturing and processing industry to provide products, product packaging, marketing and logistics to fill the delivery requests.
- The manufacturing and processing industry depend upon the commodity markets including meat packing plants, grain elevators, and wholesalers for the products.
- The commodity markets depend upon farmers to produce food, milk, grains, fuel, plants, and all the agricultural related products that the world uses every day.
- The farmers depend upon the ability to access inputs (such as fertilizer, fuel on the farm, seeds, etc.), labor, and their markets/consumers in order to provide the products that the food chain depends upon.
It is important to realize that the farm supply of eggs, milk, bacon, steaks, flour, and other food staples are plentiful, however, when one of the links in the chain is broken, Americans see economic stress, shortages, pricing pressures, and a lack of choice and selection. And, everyone in the food chain suffers including farmers.
People are really grasping at something, anything about this situation that they can “control”:
I have turned off the doom and gloom news… I can control that!
I have focused my early mornings on 30-60 minutes of a cardio workout… I can control that!
I have enjoyed lunches with my wife every day during the stay-at-home order… I can control that!
I have spent time on some house and property projects… I can control that!
As an organization, CCFB has spent time brainstorming on how we can support our members… We can control that!
Local farms and member small businesses need our help, and we encourage you to shop local, buy local, support local. (See our special insert dedicated to lending a helping hand to our friends, and our neighbors, our Farm Bureau family members.) We can control that!
The next month and beyond will be focused on reopening America. Certainly, the Monday morning quarterbacks will not go on unemployment!