As the industry celebrates National Ag Week and National Ag Day, it offers a chance to reflect on the challenges and successes over the last year. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says it is a chance to honor the hard work done during the pandemic.
“Agriculture is the foundation of our country and it's also the backbone of a healthy country, and a prosperous nation. And all that’s made possible by the hard work of the American farmer and rancher,” Duvall said. “#StillFarming was something that we created last spring after people was going to the grocery store seeing empty shelves, wondering whether or not the American farmer was going to still work. And we started the hashtag to inform the American people that we were going to continue to farm.”
Reflecting on the last year, Duvall said the pandemic added to the daily stresses of U.S. agriculture.
“A lot of our farmers lost their markets because a lot of their markets were in food services, and when those restaurants and food service areas shut down everybody rushed the grocery store, and it changed the pattern of way Americans purchase their food,” Duvall said. “So, our industry had to readjust and that was very difficult for our farmers.”
However, as farmers do best, they adapted.
“You know, one year later, we've made great strides in returning to normal. Our commodity prices are beginning to go up, meatpacking plants across America are almost back to full capacity and our restaurants are returning to full service. And now we are hoping and praying that 2021 will be a better year,” Duvall said.
Duvall says there are still challenges farmers face, and AFBF is working to help farmers and ranchers over those hurdles.
“This pandemic has shown us that broadband is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity. And then there's labor. Labor is the biggest limiting factor that American agriculture has,” Duvall said. “And then, of course, there's discussion around climate change and the policies that go along with that, and we've worked really hard with other organizations to make sure that we're at the table.”