Agricultural Concerns Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Shelley Swearingen – March 18, 2020
In the Midwest, we often feel segregated from the rest of the world. We live our lives according to small town values and enjoy the simple things. The recent development of the global transmission of a deadly virus has shaken the country to its core. As separated as we may feel sometimes, this nasty microscopic villain has connected us all.
COVID-19 will affect every facet of our American economy. We are approaching planting season, and farmers should already be devising plans to combat the upcoming issues to be faced on their farms and land. One such issue is that of available labor.
Here in West Central Indiana, we have yet to receive our first confirmed case. If we follow trends similar to the rest of the country, this would place high infection rates out at least another two to four weeks. The contagion rate associated with this virus is very high, and in the best-case scenario would keep the healthiest asymptomatic person in quarantine for 14 days. In the worst-case scenario, an entire farm is infected and all farmers/hands are bedridden for recovery.
In the grand scheme of things, fourteen days may not seem like much. But to those that rely on agriculture to make a living, this is critical. These fourteen days (and the window with which they fall) could make or break a crop for a particular season.
Adding to this debacle, 93% of America’s seasonal farm employees come from Mexico.1 The US State Department has announced it will be suspending visas from Mexico while we combat the progression of coronavirus.
Luckily, America’s farmers are known for their tenacity and Midwesterners are known for their resilience & kindness. We are tough and resourceful. We always find a way.
We will get through this stronger than before, but this is a long and difficult road we must first face. Until then, be well & stay healthy… and let’s look out for our neighbors.
Information has been gathered from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.
- Yurkevich, Vanessa. March 18, 2020. American Farm Bureau: “US farms and ranches could face a serious labor shortage”. CNN News. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-18-20-intl-hnk/