By Gary Ritter
Florida Farm Bureau
Even when the world is in full-blown crisis mode under the effects of war, natural disasters or disease, the American farmer keeps going and never shuts down.
Yes, it’s true. The American farmer, grower and rancher provides all of us with three-plus meals a day. It’s also true that we would also be without many other products if farm families didn’t keep going during these times of crisis. They are steadfast and never let us down.
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. At that time it had spread to 114 countries and taken the lives of more than 4,000 people across the world.
This is the first time the World Health Organization had declared an outbreak such as this a pandemic since the H1N1 swine flu in 2009. As of this writing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 1,629 reported cases in the United States and 41 deaths.
Many countries, including the United States, continue to shut down to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The stock markets have been on a roller coaster ride and many businesses have canceled meetings and asked their staff to work from home to reduce the risks of COVID-19 — especially for elderly people.
Locally and around Lake Okeechobee, we’ve shut down festivals and events to reduce crowds of people to reduce the potential for spreading the virus. We’ve even seen our churches cancel services.
Sports are gone and some other offices are closed, but farmers continue to produce the food and fiber we are dependent upon and sometimes take for granted. The Everglades Agricultural Area is in full harvest mode, supplying the majority of the winter vegetables up and down the east coast of the United States.
Our local dairy farms are still milking around the clock as usual. All this to keep milk in our grocery stores and, in turn, in our refrigerators. They say dairy farmers never sleep, and I believe it. Our local egg producer also keeps the plant running smoothly to provide a continuous supply of eggs for all of us.
In all the chaos we’ve all purchased food and other supplies in preparation for the worst possible scenarios, depleting stock at the grocery stores. Yet farmers go nonstop and continue to produce food so we can have a safe, consistent supply of food on our tables at night.
In spite of representing only 2% of the American population, agriculture remains the backbone of America. The United States produces the safest food supply in the world.
Without American farmers, growers and ranchers, we would be dependent on other countries for our food supply and the safety of our food supply would always be in question. So, the next time you see an opportunity, thank a farmer for continuing to give us life support under all types of circumstances.