COVID-19 has brought the world as we know it to a standstill. What are the impacts this invisible foe is going to have over the future of agriculture in the United States?
And what does the future hold for the farmers and workers in this industry?
Farm To Table
Grocery supplies at supermarkets are taking a hit due to the shortage of available stock and disruption of supply chains. Exotic varieties of food that used to be shipped from various parts of the world have stopped arriving due to the shutdown of the aviation industry.
This is the time to support local farmers and consume local produce. The role of local farmers will take center-stage. Roping in local farmers to enhance food supplies and rejuvenate the local economy is the right thing to do. The concept of the farm-to-table will take on a whole new importance in the post-pandemic period.
Health Of The Workforce
The health of the existing workforce is of paramount importance. Increased testing of all farm workers and supply chain workers will be the new normal. The use of safety equipment like masks and gloves combined with good hygiene practices like hand sanitizing will go a long way in positively impacting the future of the industry.
Adapting to changing times is the best way to stay afloat in troubled waters. Farm automation will see a lot of takers in the times to come. Automated processes already play a major role in the farming of staple crops like wheat and rice, provided this sector is large-scale.
The industries which will take a hit are the farms growing fruits and organic produce. These farms require a lot of skilled, manual labor providing niche services. The influx of migrant workers who make up a large part of these workforces, which is already at an all-time low, will be down to nothing thanks to the disruption in air traffic.
Taking this scenario into consideration, automation solutions for niche farming services will see a rise, though harvesting fruits will still need the human touch. Dependency on dwindling workforces can be lessened with the advent of more automated farming machinery.
The Economic Repercussions
The economy has seen a downward spiral due to the pandemic and needs efficient stimulus programs by the government. A positive note amidst these bleak times is that the government has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to design a $19 billion relief package for farmers to tide them over in this critical time.
The package includes $16 billion in direct payment to farmers and ranchers. It is meant to ensure the unabated supply of food and food products to all Americans without majorly compromising on the economic health of the agricultural industry.
Online Sale Of Produce
One way farmers can have an upper hand in this situation is by taking up the online sale of produce. Many resources and platforms make this a reality. Supply chains are crucial to the industry, and when the links in the chain take a tumble, alternative methods should be taken into account.
In the coming days, many farmers will take to online selling of produce on various platforms like fish to water. Staying relevant and updated is essential in these trying times.
Though uncertainty runs high right now, the reopening of the country after the lockdown is going to positively impact the agricultural industry. The re-opening of restaurants will increase the rates of various agricultural produce. Once trade resumes, the export of products will rejuvenate the sector. The most important factor in all of this is to ensure personal safety.
We at Kelly Engineering will always remain a beacon of hope and support to the agricultural industry.