While the impacts of COVID-19 remain ever-looming in our daily lives, it is heartening to know that Americans continue to place their support behind our country’s farmers and ranchers. In a poll conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, 84% of those surveyed shared that they trust our nation’s producers. Moreover, 84% of the survey participants believe the government should provide assistance for farmers who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the pandemic.
According to the USDA’s most recent Agricultural Prices report, the prices received by farmers, averaged across all sectors of production agriculture, were down by 8.4% between March and April. If these trends persist into the coming months, it could place many producers in an even tighter spot than they are already in.
Additionally, over the twelve-month period that ended in March of 2020, a total of 627 family farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a 23% increase when compared to the previous twelve-month period. As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in our local, state, and national economies following the end of March, it is anticipated that we will see the number of these filings climb even higher in the near future.
In efforts to encourage lawmakers in Washington to provide support for our nation’s farmers and ranchers during this critical juncture, AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote a letter to leaders in Congress that expressed the significant challenges the agriculture industry is currently facing.
“Producers have witnessed their markets shrink overnight or even disappear, while supply chains have been stretched to the limit in response to the pandemic,” wrote Duvall. “The widespread closures at the retail level are impacting consumer demand and purchasing patterns in ways that the industry has never experienced.”
Many farmers were not included in the first wave of federal aid that was doled out in response to COVID-19, and some of those who were are still struggling. Moving forward, we are hopeful that our friends and neighbors in need of assistance are able to receive it as new relief considerations are being discussed by legislators. Given the substantial hits that our nation’s producers have endured in recent months, they certainly could benefit from a helping hand in these difficult times.