COVID-19 Impact on Food and Agriculture: How Farmers are Responding
by Anika Baboun, Global Resilience Institute
As we are beginning to see how communities may reopen in the midst of the COVD-19 pandemic, the impact on both lives and livelihoods are surfacing more and more. While the pandemic is slowing down in some places, it is growing rapidly in others. One industry the pandemic has greatly effect has been our food and agriculture systems, due to changes in food supply and demand. However the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have reassured the world that there is no need for panic, claiming there is enough food for everyone worldwide.
According to the FAO, it is important for policy makers globally to be careful not to repeat similar mistakes made during the 2007-2008 food crisis. This previous food crisis created an opportunity for policymakers to learn and enhance their management strategies of our food production and distribution to build more resilient systems and prepare for future disruptions such as COVID-19. As economies all over the world have slowed down, the unemployment rate has never been higher. As a result, countries, especially those who depend on the importation of food, will struggle.
It is no secret that before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 820 million people, according to the FAO, were living in hunger and tens of millions more will join them if actions aren’t made. Consequently, farmers and grain companies are stepping up to help feed those in need. Mike Schaver, Gold Star FS grain department manager, stated to the Farm Week Now that “Here in America, we are accustomed to being the greatest agricultural nation in the world, and we know that many of our neighbors’ lives and finances have been turned upside down.”
These days, the grocery stores are the place to be. Due to the limit to how much people can stock up on vegetables, it is unavoidable that grocery stores are unusually packed on a daily basis, as people are taking the necessary measures to feed their families while following the social distancing rules. As grocery shoppers stock up on rice, bread, meat, beans, and canned goods to be able to stay at home, farmers continue to go to work and risk their own health to be able to feed families during coronavirus. Most are operating without sick pay or health insurance but continue to harvest to maintain our nation’s resilient food supply.
According to the Financial Post, the agriculture sector has a history of resilience. It has survived the Great Depression, two world wars and high interest rates in the 80’s. Due to the hard and tireless work of farmers that supply freshly harvested fruits and vegetables every day, shelves are kept reasonably stocked, despite the panic buying – making them one of the heroes of this pandemic.