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Pandemic helps spread thankfulness

Thankfulness. It is something we are seeing more of during this public health crisis. Appreciation especially for those in the health care industry and in agriculture.

It’s unfortunate that it has taken a pandemic to make us take notice of what these industries do for us day in and day out.

Did you know that Ohio has more than 77,800 farms and agriculture is the No. 1 contributor to Ohio’s economy? These Ohio farms are committed to producing a steady supply of wholesome and nutritious food.

Getting this food to the consumers during the current pandemic has been challenging to say the least. Those in production agriculture are appreciative and thankful for all of the agricultural support and processing industries that are doing their best to make sure the food supply chain keeps moving. It’s amazing how many of these ag-related businesses there are.

My background is in dairy farming, so I am going to try to give a perspective on how many links there are in the food supply chain by looking at a dairy farm that produced milk and feed for their animals.

l Nutritionists create feed plans more detailed than most people’s diets. Companies that make vitamins and minerals supplements, finished feed products, grains. Analytical labs that test feed supplies.

l Veterinarians provide preventive and curative care. Pharmaceutical companies that make and produce animal drugs and vaccines. Breeding genetics companies and the techs that breed the animals.

l Seed and fertilizer of all different kinds to fit all kinds of needs. Soil testing.

l Farm equipment manufacturers and dealers, mechanics and parts suppliers. Light and commercial trucks. Fuel delivery and storage. Specialized milking equipment and building materials.

l Either you ship your milk through a cooperative that contracts the sale or you do the contracting with an independent buyer. There are processors all over Ohio for bottled milk, evaporated milk, creams, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, butter and egg nog. Contract milk haulers to get your milk there. The numerous techs that test the quality and safety along the processing way.

There are the accountants, tax specialists, bank lenders and insurance agents that all have special skill sets and knowledge to deal with an agricultural business.

Agriculture is a complex industry. Research and development continues every day.

The list is long, but far from exhaustive. And this is just dairy. And another critical link is the trucking that has to happen each step of the way.

One in eight jobs in Ohio is a link in the food supply chain. The farmer is the first, but every link is critical. As I think about all these links, my head spins and I wonder how is it that it is only one in eight jobs and not more.

So as you visit the grocery store and are looking for your favorite yogurt, be thankful for the farmer who produced the milk, berries and sugar. Be thankful for the companies and employees that made the yogurt, the packaging material, and the equipment used to make these products.

Be thankful for the trucker who brought the yogurt to the store and the employees of the grocery store that are there doing their best. You may not get exactly what you want, but you can still be thankful.

We truly are in this together, from farm to table.

Smallsreed is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.

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