A Message from AFBF President Zippy Duvall
Things are far from business as usual in cities and towns across America this week. Millions of us are being called to serve our neighbors by staying home. There is a lot beyond our control and still unknown as we face this crisis, but we can focus on and be faithful with the tasks at hand. For farmers and ranchers our calling hasn’t changed, though its importance hits closer to home in times like these: we are committed to rising every day to grow and harvest the food we all depend on. We can’t do that work alone, however. In the days, weeks and months ahead, agriculture will continue to depend on access to a skilled workforce to help with the work of planting, cultivating and harvesting our crops.
We have been blessed with plenty when it comes to America’s food supply. Empty shelves can be frightening, but empty fields and barns would be devastating. Times like these should remind us all of the importance of ensuring our nation’s food security. While many retailers are scaling back and temporarily closing for public health, agriculture remains on call 24/7. As Americans everywhere rush to their local grocery stores, I am reminded of and grateful for the tireless hours farmers and ranchers put in all year long to supply healthy, affordable food to be processed and packaged so stores can restock grocery shelves, produce bins, and meat and dairy cases.
Like you, I am praying for a quick end to this pandemic. I also have faith that great stories of service, of neighbors helping neighbors and communities working together (even from a distance) to protect one another will shine brightly across this country.
Yes, There are COVID-19 Impacts on Agriculture
Most people are focused on businesses such as restaurants or airlines, which certainly have experienced a sharp and sudden decrease. What they may not be thinking about is the cumulative impact on agriculture. Most hospitality and travel industries were doing well before the virus. Farmers and ranchers were not. Coronavirus is just the latest in a string of misfortunes that have kept the farm economy down for several years...
Farmers Prioritize Worker Health and Safety
From adding handwashing and sanitizing stations in the field to limiting person-to-person interactions as much as possible, keeping to the farm and even preparing for the worst – a COVID-19 infection on the farm – Farm Bureau is urging farmers to take all the precautions possible to protect themselves, their workers and their communities.
Expanded Interview Waivers for H-2A Program is Welcome News
Last week, the State Department announced a commitment to processing H-2A applications to ensure an agriculture workforce by expanding the interview waiver. AFBF Congressional Relations Director Allison Crittenden says this change expands the pool of available workers.
Coronavirus Aid Package Critical for Farmers
The coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Pandemic Injects Volatility into Cattle and Beef Markets
This global pandemic has injected never-before-seen uncertainty into the cattle and beef markets. A slowing economy is bad for all animal proteins, but beef – typically the highest priced of the proteins and considered a luxury product in economic terms – stands to suffer the most when consumers spend less in response to wage cuts and job losses.
View our full coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture here.
Whether they’re readying the soil for spring planting, tending to crops that have already sprouted, feeding and milking their dairy cows or looking after their cattle, chickens and pigs, farmers and ranchers take very seriously their commitment to fill grocery store shelves with safe, affordable food.
Below are resources and communications tools to help farmers and their employees continue to work safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in rural communities. Please contact your local Farm Bureau for up-to-date guidance and state-specific resources.
- Guidance for Farms and On-Farm Deliveries – Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
- Ag Worksite Checklist – University of California, Davis
- Guidance for Livestock Markets – Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
- Protective Measures for U-Pick Farms – South Carolina Farm Bureau
- Coronavirus Prevention & Control for Farms – Cornell University
- Workplace Guidelines and Posters – CDC
- How to Build a Field Handwashing Station – South Carolina Farm Bureau
- Coping with Stress in the Ag Community – Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Template Email for Farm Employees – Michigan Farm Bureau
- Need for Travel for Critical Infrastructure Worker – Michigan Farm Bureau
- Information on H-2A and COVID-19 – USDA
- Information on coronavirus and how to slow the spread – CDC
- State-by-state information on trucking restrictions – American Trucking Association