While there’s a long road ahead in the health crisis we’re facing nationally and globally with COVID-19, I can’t help but be uplifted when I hear the stories of how farmers and ranchers and local Farm Bureaus are answering the call to community and country.
For some that could mean doing all you can to hold on till we get to the other side of this crisis. It also means all of us sharing stories of how we are still farming to put our fellow Americans’ minds at ease about the security of our food supply. And for others, it may mean adjusting the way you do business for a time, to meet the needs of today.
For Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Distillery in Pennsylvania, answering the call meant changing over his distillery to produce hand sanitizer when he heard about the shortage in his community and across the country. At Holesinsky Winery in Idaho, they can barely keep up with demand for the hand sanitizer they’re producing. These are just a couple of examples of family farmers who are stepping up to meet a need and solve a problem, often donating their new product to medical workers and community members at highest risk.
Farm Bureau staff are answering the call too, working tirelessly for members and finding ways to get food from the farm to local customers. Hawaii Farm Bureau has set up a “Farm to Car” service to get food safely to the community, while helping members continue to sell their products. Customers can place orders online and simply drive up to the farmers’ market where staff will load orders right into the car.
U-pick farms across the country are getting into the drive-through business, including Butler’s Orchard in Maryland. And thanks to creative solutions like the online direct-buy, farm finder from the Maryland Farmers Market Association, customers can easily find safe ways to get their fresh produce, meat and dairy products while supporting local farmers and relieving some of the burden from grocery stores.
For so many, answering the call means giving with no expectation of return, or selling products at a reduced cost to prevent waste. This has taken on many forms, and I am sure there are more acts of sacrifice across our rural communities than we can ever fully know. Members across the country, like in Champaign County, Illinois, donated face masks to health care workers to help protect them on the frontlines of this fight.
Others, like Oregon Farm Bureau President Barb Iverson, are bringing a little extra joy to others in a tough time. When Barb and her family had to make the tough decision to cancel their annual Tulip Festival at Wooden Shoe Farm, they found a way to deliver tulips to seniors under stay-at-home orders in their state, bringing a bit of the colorful festival home to those who could use a little spring the most.
Here at the American Farm Bureau, we continue to work with our grassroots members and state Farm Bureaus, doing all we can to help you and your families make it through this crises. This is a time unlike any of us have seen in our lifetimes, and hopefully we will not see again. I know we are all praying for relief to come soon, and as we wait, hope and work amid all we are facing, we will continue to be stronger together.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.