To the Editor:
Not long ago, plant-based foods were popular in fast food restaurants and grocery stores with demand increasing. As we entered the COVID-19 era, this seemed to change. Consumers began to panic buy milk, eggs, and meat, or basically real food, produced by our nation's farmers.
Besides panic buying, the COVID-19 pandemic brought other changes to the agricultural sector of our economy. The closing of schools and restaurants caused disruptions in the supply chain and logistics as we went from a wholesale to retail food system.
The closing of meat packing and processing facilities due to workers becoming ill compounded the situation with wide price variances at the retail level and market prices paid for livestock to producers. As Americans began to drive less, the demand for ethanol decreased resulting in ethanol plants closing and a dramatic decrease in corn prices.
Farmers, as well as others, have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Ironically, March 23 was National Agriculture Day, honoring our nation's farmers, ranchers, and workers. There was little or no coverage of this day by the media as consumers began to panic buy food with probably no thought of or appreciation to the farmers who made it possible for them to do so.
What the pandemic has done is to make people more respectful of the work American farmers do to feed them. The availability, selection, and quality of food along with the efficiency of the food chain is now apparent. In the past consumers have had a somewhat negative opinion of dairy and livestock farmers and their operations, often fueled by misconceptions spread by activists.
Hopefully this attitude changes as consumers realize farmers and ranchers provide them with safe, wholesome, and nutritious food.
Our population needs to be thankful for the American farmer. As our country strives to once again become socially and economically normal, Agriculture, the backbone of our nation, has to remain strong with the family farm surviving and remaining productive.