How has COVID-19 impacted farmers?

Posted: April 21, 2020

Answer: Some of the effects of these unsettling times are lower commodity prices and a back-up in the supply chain which could delay our progress. But, we are geared up to move forward and plant this year’s crop, with our continued optimism and faith in farming.

Enduring in a time like this will be the hallmark of our generation. Who could have thought that this scenario would affect us?  Well, quite a few people could.

Templates of this failure were projected across the world for us to watch on TV. Experts have foreseen a possibility of this scenario happening almost in these specific steps. But where does this place agriculture? Hopefully, ultimately, moving forward.

Of course there will and have been rampant repercussions across the industry. Commodity prices have tanked during the U.S. onset of this pandemic but Saudi Arabia and Russia trying to out-pump each other has not helped either. After all, our corn and soybeans are an energy-producing industry. 

We have been deemed as an “essential” industry and we will persevere in the face of this crisis and do our best to fulfill our plans for this crop year.

Most ag businesses work at full capacity no matter if there is a catastrophic event or not. The pandemic will certainly back up supply chains at some point and delay forward progress across the industry. 

However, at our farm I am hoping that the next few weeks will go smoothly. We have been planning this 2020 crop ever since the catastrophic beginning of 2019. Every person in agriculture I spoke to stated that they were done with 2019 and ready for 2020. The enthusiasm and hope was palpable. 

2019 stressed the farm economy in ways that some will never recover from. We were all put to the test and looked toward a future that must be brighter than the present. We don’t want to give up on 2020 just yet. This was supposed to be the year to redeem us, for us to rise from the ashes.

The fact of the matter is that surviving 2019 has, in my opinion, strengthened our fortitude to succeed. We have been deemed as an “essential” industry and we will persevere in the face of this crisis and do our best to fulfill our plans for this crop year.

Most of the seed orders placed over the winter are either in our sheds or at the local dealer. Our partners in the fertilizer and chemical supply chains have been working overtime to top off with product and ramp up for spring work. Our equipment dealers are offering online and phone orders for curbside pickup. If ever there was an industry to adapt to a situation like this it is agriculture. 

I pray that my hope is not misplaced. We too have become a just-in-time inventory industry. We saw last fall what happened when a cold snap coincided with corn drying. We ran short of propane at a critical moment. However, we adapted. The relationships we have built in ag can sustain these times, just as they have in the past.

We now look to the forecast. We watch the weather and monitor the news. We are to some degree a captive audience to the whims of our environment. We can prepare our fields with tile and tillage, with nutrients and careful planning. But we will always be subject to forces we cannot control. For the first time the rest of the economy knows a little bit about how we operate. I think this is where the eternal optimism that farmers possess comes from. No matter how we try, we do not always have the final say. I have faith in our industry. I have faith our supply chain will deliver in time. I have faith that this year will be better than last and I have faith that tomorrow will be better than today. If it were not for that I would not be in this industry.

MIKE SCHWEITZER – SIXTH GENERATION GRAIN FARMER, ESMOND

The Schweitzers – Amy, Mike, Eli, and Warren farm in rural Esmond. They grow corn, soybeans, sweet corn, and peas and raise 4-H animals. 

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