Can We Save Small Farms?
An Essay On Farming After COVID
You know what I see?
Too many people who seem to have forgotten about the last year-and-a-half.
Who did people run to when the pandemic hit, when they didn’t feel safe even going to grocery stores, when meat processing plants shut down and everyone feared starvation?
Their local farmer.
2020 was a year that defied simple adjectives, but for us—and most farmers we know—it was one that humbled us.
When the pandemic hit, farmers became pillars of security in our communities. We gladly worked overtime, filling orders and partnering with neighboring farms to feed the people who depended on us, knowing that we provided a much-needed sense of comfort amidst the chaos.
Like other businesses, COVID upheaved our ways of operating as we did our best to keep ourselves, our employees, and our customers safe—all the while grappling with shifting market conditions and, for meat farmers, slaughterhouses that were booked well into the following year.
Product flew off our shelves as quickly as it was restocked and farmers everywhere thought that—although these were exceptional times and would certainly level out—maybe, just maybe, everyone finally realized their need for their local farmers.
Until they didn’t.
Now everywhere I turn I see another farm struggling to make ends meet, selling off parts of their operation, or closing down.
What happened? Our lives went back to “normal”.
I’ve sat on this post for a while, not wanting to appear angry, ungrateful, or unappreciative of our amazing customers—because I’m not. I’m endlessly thankful for our supporters, that we’ve made it through the pandemic this far, and that our lights are still on. To say we’re fortunate is an understatement.
But we’re still hurting some. Many, many farms are hurting this year.
If we care about preserving small farms, as a nation, it’s time to put our money where our mouths are (again).
If we don’t, when the next crisis comes, when our supply chain is hit again, when panic ensues once more over starvation, the local farmer won’t be there.