At the risk of parroting every media outlet, the past two months have been an unprecedented time for our world, nation, and communities. To say the current pandemic has been a disruption to our way of work is the epitome of understatement. While the closure of businesses and stores was prominent in headlines, there is a sector that has been morphing and regrouping to acclimate to the new norm — the farmers. This crisis has helped all of us realize the true necessity of our farmers. The fruit of their blood, sweat, and tears is not only essential, but required for nutrition and sustenance.
Farmers, ranchers, and other agribusinesses were the embodiment of essential long before the term essential workers made its way into everyday conversations. And while news outlets broadcast images of farmers dumping food because of breaks in the supply chain, few circled back to see the measures farmers are taking to try to salvage their crops and businesses.
Corporations like Publix have stepped in to buy local farmers’ surplus and donate to food banks. Still, so much more is being done in the agriculture sector that proves the resilience and determination of our farmers.
State and Local Connections
As farmers see the breaks in the supply chain, their yield is piling up, creating an urgent need for an outlet. As a result, many in the agriculture sector have been working to get their crop directly to the public, whether through organized efforts or independent social media outreach letting the public know of the option. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been helping to connect farmers with consumers and businesses. On a more local level, the Florida Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Group is also working hard to directly connect supply and demand.
I, too, have been trying different ways to circumvent the stymied supply chain. I’m selling the finest grass-fed beef raised on Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch and processing it through Chop-N-Block to get it out to the public.
Similarly, the pandemic came at the exact time when u-pick blueberry and peach operations reached the peak of the season. This meant the farmers had to put social distancing rules in effect for their farms and limit the number of participants based on the government guidelines.
Despite these obstacles, we persevere. Essential since the dawn of time, we are your Florida farmers—tried and true, hardscrabble, and resilient. We’re here for you.