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Amid crisis, life on the farm goes on

As the coronavirus continues to spread and disrupt society, life on farms and ranches never skips a beat.

For many, it’s calving season. For others, seeds will soon be planted. Regardless of volatility, the rest of the year depends on these essential tasks.

Comfort can also be found by staying busy and productive in a time of increased stress.

While calving season can be an unrelenting marathon, it brings relief for rancher Deb Frank this year. She’s thankful for “good reasons to keep my mind off the virus and the ever-swirling cycle of bad news.”

Farmers and ranchers have an enduring ability to hang on through thick and thin, to adapt successfully to ever-changing circumstances. Amid the unsettling time of not knowing to what extent the full effects of COVID-19 will bring to the supply chain, producers are dialing in their systems, focusing on making good decisions, strategizing for the long term and tapping human creativity to the maximum extent possible.

Direct sales producers have seen increased interest from consumers concerned about a stable food supply. As a result, products that have been taken for granted on grocery shelves year-round are being given more consideration.

Will this be a turning point for change in awareness and behavior? If so, change in consumer demand may dictate a change on the production end.

Mindful food safety and shopper proximity, many people are pursuing arrangements for regular shipments and pickups direct from local farmers. Others are planting new gardens or expanding existing ones.

Shortening the food chain and strengthening the links can foster food security and peace of mind for consumers, along with a welcome source of income for farmers whose livelihoods are on the line.

The Center for Rural Affairs is a private nonprofit working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental needs.

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