Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

A Family’s Pandemic Story: The Good, The Bad and The Farmer

Credit: Frketich Family Photo 

By Brenda Frketich @NuttyGrass

COVID-19: the virus that has taken over everyone’s lives. Whether you have it, are scared of it, are quarantining because of it, have lost your job, closed your business, or are still working harder than ever, we’re all being affected.

For my family in Marion County, Oregon, it’s no different. Here’s our pandemic story: “The Good, The Bad and The Farmer.”

We’re lucky to have amazing help and are #StillFarming.

My brother Kyle represents “The Good.”

Kyle has used his 3D printers to make face shields for those who are lacking personal protective equipment. In the last few months, he has made and delivered thousands of masks and shields to folks in and around his community to help keep them safe from the virus. Kyle’s inspirational story even made the front page of our local newspaper, the Salem Statesman Journal.

My sister Jill represents “The Bad.”

She contracted the coronavirus — and is now, thankfully, fully recovered. Experiencing the pandemic through Jill’s personal experience has been scary with so many unknowns. But it was also very interesting. Jill started a blog to discuss her symptoms and her journey with the virus as it unfolded. You can read it at https://spreadingsunshineblog.com/.

I am “The Farmer” of our family’s pandemic story.

As farmers, we face unknowns all the time. Weather, pricing, and market fluctuations are factors we face head on every year. At this point in the year, we’ve put a lot of money into our crops, labor, repairs — all money going out the door to cultivate a healthy crop. We do this all while not knowing the yields or prices for many of these crops. Uncertainty is a very real thing for farmers and ranchers; it’s a normal part of the job.

In my lifetime, however, I’ve never had to add “worldwide pandemic” to the list of factors that affect things like pricing, shipping, exporting and supply availability. In this uncharted territory, we’re finding protections where we can and taking care of our crops the best that we can.

At home, my husband and three young children are safe. We’re lucky to have amazing help and are #StillFarming. Our kids can still be at home, and we can live our lives in a somewhat normal fashion.

That said, I don’t spend quite as much time on the farm lately, as I’ve picked up a new teaching gig on the side. Homeschooling has proven interesting and overwhelming on top of running the farm.  

At this point, I just wish I had more answers. But I don’t. None of us do. So, I’m going to continue doing what I know: growing crops, loving my family, working hard and prioritizing.

And all that I don’t know — like how to teach kindergarten — I’ll just keep putting in the work and chipping away at it.

So, there you have it, “The Good, The Bad and The Farmer,” all wrapped up in one Oregon family during one wild time in history.

Brenda Frketich is a farmer and Farm Bureau member in Oregon. She grows hazelnuts, grass seed, crimson clover and other crops on her family farm. She blogs about her experiences as a mom, farmer and advocate for agriculture at www.Nuttygrass.com.

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