Joe Paschal

Joe Paschal

Although it is not seen in the nightly news, agriculture is quietly going about the business of feeding all of us in the middle of this pandemic even as we social distance and shelter in place.

Farmers are still tending their crops, dairies are still milking cows, ranchers are still feeding cattle and calving their cows, broiler and egg houses still producing chicken and eggs, and swine operations still farrowing and raising pigs.

Food processors, both plant and animal, are still operating and we are all producing the world’s safest, nutritious, and least expensive food in the world. There will be no shortage of food for the American consumer.

Early in the pandemic, many shoppers experienced some concern at the unusually empty aisles and coolers as a shift occurred in your eating (and for some buying) habits from the local restaurants to your homes. Beef, poultry (chicken primarily), and pork have all seen record amounts purchased at the checkout.

I have personally observed some cuts (roasts mainly) being purchased by consumers who had no idea how to prepare them.

Most of those shelves are now restocked, except for perhaps paper and personal hygiene products, and some limits on purchases are in place, but I repeat, but there is no shortage of food.

The American consumer pays much less than 10% of their income on food (the lowest in the world) and that includes preparation, packaging, and placing, all for the ease and convenience of the consumer. Food prices have not seen an increase and delivery trucks are still delivering food and other necessary items daily.

Agriculture workers are considered essential workers. Farmers and ranchers, employees of farmers and ranchers and food processing plants, veterinarians, truck drivers delivering those food items, even state and federal employees that ensure the quality and safety of those food items are working during the pandemic. To be sure, they may not be on the front lines of the pandemic nor in the nightly news, but without their daily efforts, the fight against the pandemic would certainly be a lot more difficult.

Food production supports all of the other efforts to manage this pandemic. Next time you see someone involved in agriculture, thank them, they are in the front lines too.

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Joe C. Paschal is a livestock specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Corpus Christi. Contact him at j-paschal@tamu.edu or 361-265-9203.

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