In the past week there have been more questions than answers and with every passing hour there is an overabundance of unknowns and concerns about the health and safety of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. Here’s what I know about life as we know it in New York today:
- Gatherings are limited to a certain number of people.
- Social and work calendars have never been so empty.
- A work-from-home mentality has begun to take shape.
- Remote education is the new norm for students of all ages.
- Dine-in is no longer on the menu.
- The stock market continues to be volatile and
- The question remains, “How long will this be our new normal?”
In the midst of the challenging times that we’re all facing and living with many unknowns, there is one more thing that I do know – food is being produced every day. At this time last week, Americans rushed to grocery stores to stock up on food and essentials amid the recent health crisis. Within hours, store shelves were bare. Milk coolers were empty. Meat cases were cleaned out. Boxes of pasta and baking items were scarce. Fruits and vegetables were well picked through and toilet paper was a rare commodity. People were desperate. Desperate for answers, desperate for their health and for the chance to continue to put food on the table in the upcoming days and weeks.
I’d like you to take a moment and think about where that food came from. Think about where the meat originated, how the milk got to your breakfast table, and what that toilet paper that everyone so desperately needed is made out of. When our carts were overflowing with the “essentials,” store shelves became empty but American farmers were home continuing to produce products that would fill those shelves in the following days. You see, the thing about American farmers is that they don’t stop because the work doesn’t stop. And keep in mind, the work doesn’t stop on the farm so it doesn’t stop for the folks helping to keep our farms running either, including our employees, veterinarians, nutritionists, truck drivers, milk processors, and so many more key people. It truly takes a team of people to bring food to your table every single day.
Now imagine what the scene would be if those store shelves couldn’t be replenished; if farmers were out of business, if farms were shut down and everyone had to fend for themselves. As farmers, sometimes it feels as if the items we produce for food, clothing, and shelter are taken for granted. It feels as if our customers don’t care if we were producing for a hungry nation but in the wake of the past week, we hope more people realize just how important the farming industry is to the health and well-being of your family.
Farming is not a way of life for everyone and as farmers, we respect that and we simply ask for respect in return. Our work never stops and it’s unfortunate that it has taken a worldwide pandemic for people to realize the importance of food and the American farmer. So when you’re eating your chicken dinner tonight, think about the farmer that works hard to produce the protein sources we enjoy. When you’re putting the milk on your cereal or eating ice cream with your kids, remember the dairy farms that remain open every single day to ensure delicious dairy products are on the store shelves. If you’re having corn or soy-based products, think about the grain farmers that are preparing for spring planting. And that toilet paper, well, I’m sure the cotton farmers across the country are very thankful that it became such a rare commodity this past week.
As we learn to live at a physical distance from each other in the coming days and weeks, we’ll learn to live without sports, a busy calendar and so much more that used to be our normal. But one thing I can assure you of is that down on the farm our “normal” hasn’t changed. Cows need to be milked and fields need to be prepped for planting because spring is inevitably around the corner and farmers aren’t slowing down.
So the next time you go to the grocery store, please don’t panic. We won’t run out of food as long as we can remember and be thankful for where it came from – the farm that doesn’t have a closing time.