Commentary: Farmers and Farm Bureau show the resiliency of agriculture

Issue Date: March 25, 2020
Jamie Johansson CFBF President

Resiliency. That asset has always characterized farmers, ranchers and people involved in agriculture. We will need it more than ever in the coming days and weeks, as all of us adjust to the new realities brought by the novel coronavirus and actions taken to slow its spread.

But here's one thing I know: It's in challenging times like these when farmers' and ranchers' true passion shines—feeding and contributing to the stability of our local communities, state and country. We've seen it in fields, orchards, processing plants and down the line to farmers markets and grocery stores: California agriculture remains on the job.

Farmers have been adjusting on-farm practices to account for social distancing and other measures to further assure the safety of our employees. Farm Bureau members from north to south have been proactive in fine-tuning daily activities to keep themselves and their employees safe. You can find a Farm Bureau COVID-19 Resource Page online at www.cfbf.com/covid-19-information/.

Farm Bureau has been working and will continue to work with our members and other agricultural employers to make sure they're aware of the latest guidelines from health officials and government agencies.

Because have no doubt: They and the public will be watching. Many of the calls I took from reporters in the days immediately following Gov. Newsom's stay-at-home order focused on what farmers and ranchers were doing to keep their employees safe while they do the essential work of ensuring plentiful supplies of food and farm products.

We can also expect questions about the safety of the food supply itself. Farmers and ranchers are already meticulous in employing sanitary practices in their operations, for both food safety and employee health. Redoubling those efforts, and demonstrating those efforts, will be key in assuring public confidence in their food.

You can be certain that Farm Bureau will maintain its advocacy with local, state and federal agencies to ensure availability of the human and physical resources needed to maintain plentiful food supplies. The remarkable events of mid-March showed the value of Farm Bureau as an advocate for California agriculture with elected officials, government agencies and the media.

County Farm Bureaus have remained critical local resources and have continued to respond to their members and work with local agencies to assure continuity of critical food and agricultural activity.

That's also true of those of us at the California Farm Bureau Federation. Working remotely, the CFBF staff has engaged in virtual advocacy, staying in close touch with elected officials and members of both state and federal administrations, to make certain they're aware of the impacts of the COVID-19 response and what farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses need in order to provide for our customers.

During its long history, CFBF has built strong relationships with elected officials, legislative consultants and staff. That helps us clear roadblocks and make certain farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses continue to receive the government certificates, permits and other services they need.

In the media, CFBF has remained a reliable, trusted source of information and has been active in reinforcing the crucial role California farms and ranches will fill in providing safe and reliable food at a time when many things seem unsafe and unreliable.

CFBF is unique among California farm organizations in having its own media operation, and the fact you're reading this issue of Ag Alert® is another testament to resiliency. It was important to me and to all of us at CFBF that we maintain our publication schedule, despite the logistical obstacles that might pose.

As county and state governments issued stay-at-home protocols, our editors, graphic designers, advertising specialists and others scrambled to figure out how to make sure Ag Alert could continue publishing. The CFBF Information Technology staff spent hours determining how to assure their colleagues could report, write, design and transmit the final publication from their scattered home worksites around the Sacramento region—even as the IT team made sure other CFBF employees could remotely continue services for county Farm Bureaus and individual members.

If you're reading a printed copy of Ag Alert, keep in mind the combined efforts of dozens of people from CFBF, our printing company, mail house and postal workers to bring it to you.

It's a small example of the unprecedented actions going on all around us, and particularly in agriculture. People on farms and ranches, in packinghouses, processing plants, trucking firms and grocery stores, are working diligently to harvest, pack, process, ship and stock the food and grocery products we all need.

Through drought, freeze, world war and the trauma of 9/11, farmers and ranchers and people throughout the food chain kept Americans supplied with safe, affordable food and farm products. That same ethic of resiliency will drive us in agriculture and Farm Bureau during the days and weeks to come.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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