Thankful for Farmers

Thankful for Farmers
Written by General Manager Jeff Lyon

“Someday the American people are going to be hungry and they are going to be thankful for farmers.”

For as long as I have been working for and advocating for farmers, I’ve heard this so many times and while I’ve always agreed and appreciated your hard work, I generally shrugged my shoulders because Americans have enjoyed an abundant supply of highquality, nutritious, convenient, safe and - let’s not forget, tasty – food. It’s been the least of their worries. Well, you were right and maybe now consumers will become more appreciative of your efforts.

The coronavirus outbreak was definitely a wakeup up call for everyone. And, while we’re still not hungry, the panic we’ve witnessed over the last few weeks and the stories and pictures “Maybe now consumers will become more appreciative of your efforts.” of people hoarding food was startling to me. Working in agriculture for my entire career, I have always had a great appreciation for the worldclass food production, processing and transportation system we have in America.

The steps we are taking to slow the spread of the virus, like social distancing, staying at home, and postponing and cancelling events is foreign to all of us. Afterall, we’re Americans - free to do what we want as long as we’re not hurting someone else.

The dairy industry is doing its best to prepare for potential impacts from the coronavirus outbreak, but how it will play out remains to be seen. Dairies that rely on a few or a team of employees, are frantically preparing in case their team is affected and how they can keep everything operating as smoothly as possible. The same can be said for our dairy processing plants. Hopefully all the steps being taken will make a significant difference in keeping dairy farmers and their employees, the milk haulers, and processing plant employees healthy so they can keep their businesses up and running.

Any breaks in the food production system could be detrimental to the dairy industry, we all want the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictions we’re under to last only a few weeks so we can get back to normal, whatever that is. Yet, we need to be prepared if it lingers on into the summer months. If it does linger on, there is no doubt rural America will be adversely affected. FarmFirst stands ready to advocate for policies that will give dairy farmers a better opportunity to stay in business.

Hopefully, the coronavirus outbreak has reminded Americans of the importance of food security, and to have food production, processing and transportation in the hands of many rather than a few. Perhaps, they’ll not take farmers for granted.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And when we get past this pandemic, my guess is that we’ll all go about our normal activities. Afterall, we live in a society that lives in the moment. Maybe that’s not all bad. Because you’re so good at what you do, so many others are able to live this way, not thinking about where their next meal is coming from or who helped make it possible.

Thank you. Stay safe. Stay healthy. All the best this spring as you head to the fields for planting. We’re working for you and not taking you for granted.