COVID hints at scenes of life without agriculture

Happy New Year, everyone. It’s 2022 and I think it’s safe to say we are all wondering what it has in store for us after the last couple of years. It’s been crazy, stressful, weird and … ugly. There have been many beautiful moments sprinkled throughout, but those ugly moments seem to be the most remembered — a way of thinking that I’m hoping to change in 2022.

As I look back at the struggles agriculture has faced and the obstacles the industry has overcome, I’m hit with several emotions. I’ve learned so much about our supply chain and how one small disruption creates ripples throughout the entire chain.

Those ripples, or disruptions, don’t just stop with one small change, but they start with that change. Picture a small pebble dropped in a lake. That ripple keeps going and turns into more ripples — and suddenly something else comes along that causes that ripple to shift directions. It doesn’t stop, it just moves on in another direction, maybe even coming into contact with the original sector or even colliding with another ripple.

Those ripples can cripple an industry. Those ripples can cripple an entire nation.

Folks, that realization is one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to wrap my head around.

The impact from COVID-19 has made the industry take a hard look at our food supply chain and it’s made farmers everywhere think even harder about their futures.

It’s my job to understand the issues the industry faces and my family raises beef cattle, so I probably have a leg up on many people, but let me be honest and say I never truly understood all of the ways that we as Americans could be impacted and I never really had to think about how scary that is until we were forced to realize it.

Labor has been an issue impacting agriculture for years, and now it’s almost impossible to find decent employees who stay committed for any length of time. That in itself can paralyze the supply chain.

Inputs have continued to increase and looking to the spring of 2022, fertilizer costs are expected to double, if not triple in cost and fuel prices continue to skyrocket. Material shortages are a major concern as imported materials sit on ships and labor challenges halt production.

An industry already battered with stress and mental health battles is facing some of the most difficult challenges the nation has seen in decades.

Have you thought about how important it is to not only know how to grow your own food but to teach your children? According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average American is at least three generations removed from the farm. In fact, only 2 percent of Americans are involved in agriculture. Two percent!

Have you thought about ways you can support farmers and agriculture? The important question is, has it made you as a consumer stop and think about what life without agriculture would look like? If so, did it hit you, that without agriculture there is no food, no fuel, and no fiber (clothing, cordage, etc.)?

I hope this scares you as much as it scares me. I don’t mean this as a threat, because, let’s be honest, the threat is already here, and it reared its ugly head in the form of COVID-19.

If you are involved in the industry, have you thought about the importance of standing united with other farmers and industry partners, even if you don’t agree with their methods of growing? Have you thought about being a part of an organization that gives you a voice and a platform to fight for agriculture?

Agriculturalists, farmers, and ranchers are a minority group that grows the majority of the food supply for our country and our nation, and until the majority of Americans realize that every aspect of their lives rely on and are directly impacted by the agriculture industry, and they stand up for agriculture we stand the risk of losing the one industry that we depend on to survive.

In America, 98 percent of farms are family-owned farms and those farmers and ranchers are questioning if their children and grandchildren will be able to make a living from the farm they have sacrificed everything for. Those family farms and ranches account for less than 2 percent of our population and, whether big or small, hobby farm, or their career-they have dedicated their lives to feeding and clothing the world. They need the other 98 percent of Americans to be a voice with them, to defend the safest and most abundant food supply in the entire world. We need you, because “once we are gone, we aren’t coming back.” (The New York Times, Nov. 23, 2021)

If you are interested in being a voice for the industry, call 440-426-2195 or email nefarmbu@ofbf.org to join Farm Bureau today. Farm Bureau is the voice of agriculture, “we are there, when you can’t be.”

Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director for Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trum-bull counties. Reach her at aorahood@ofbf.org.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today