Monday, August 10, 2020

Farms that sell locally doing better during pandemic than farms that depend on longer supply chains

"While farms that rely on other businesses to ferry their products to consumers have struggled, farms that sell directly to consumers have not, farmers and experts said," Marissa Plescia reports for the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. "The virus has upended supply chains: An Ohio Farm Bureau survey in April showed that about 45 percent of respondents experienced disruptions distributing their products. Dairy farmers dumped milk, and hog farmers euthanized piglets. But sellers in more local markets have, for the most part, been insulated, they said."

Many farmers are making the switch from wholesale to retail markets, according to Raghela Scavuzzo, associate director of food systems development at the Illinois Farm Bureau. "She’s also seen an increase in farms starting online stores and community supported agriculture, where consumers can become members of a farm, similar to becoming members of a grocery store, she said. There are also more partnerships between farms through vendor boxes, which combines products from several different farms into one package," Plescia reports.

Some corn and soybean farmers, who tend to rely more on long supply chains, are not faring so well, and that's on top of the pain already felt from the trade war with China and last year's record wet weather. Krista Swanson, a corn and soybean farmer in Illinois, told Pescia that there's only one planting season for soybeans in the spring, so she wasn't able to make big changes in her farm's production to respond to the market.

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