There are no simple solutions to issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bill Field, Purdue University Extension ag engineer and farm safety specialist, says doing nothing is never a good solution.
In most cases, as farmers, you’ll continue to use the resources available to you. You may not be doing things the same as before, and you may not have everything you would like — including protective gear or an ample supply of qualified, part-time help — but you’re surviving.
Everyone eats, Field says, and to say thank you to those growing food, even if you’re a farmer yourself, perhaps everyone should share a little grace and encouragement to neighboring farmers. People are already doing this for health care workers fighting COVID-19.
Here are seven things you could do to show appreciation, Field says. Pass these along to your nonfarm neighbors, too:
1. Buy direct from farmers selling products. Many farmers and their families sell freezer meat, eggs and other products. Buying direct from local farmers who have meat, eggs and produce available is a way of saying thank you. Extension educators can often provide information on who offers locally grown goods in your area.
2. Become a road escort. Offer to provide volunteer escort service to farmers when moving equipment on roadways. A following vehicle with bright flashers can help warn motorists and prevent rear-end collisions with slower-moving farm equipment. Don’t assume your neighboring farmers have enough help to take care of simple tasks like this themselves.
3. Pick up parts. Perhaps you could offer to assist a neighbor by picking up parts or other inputs necessary to keep their operation moving forward. If you do, ask the farmer to clue you in as to how the dealership is operating. Many are asking farmers to pick up parts curbside rather than going into the store.
4. Show more patience. Here’s something farmers would appreciate all the time, not just now, Field says. Be more patient when you get behind a slow-moving piece of farm equipment. Don’t put the farmer in an awkward position by how you operate your vehicle. It’s not OK to drive under a high-clearance sprayer, even if you’re on a motorcycle!
5. Supply protective gear. If you have unused N95 respirators, rubber gloves or chemical-type goggles in your possession, give them to a neighboring farmer as a gift. These items are hard to come by right now.
6. Provide childcare. Are your kids grown? Consider offering to provide childcare for a young farm couple to allow them to focus on tending to their crops. You may help keep a young child out of a tractor cab and a potentially risky situation.
7. Supply food. Cook a meal or pick up some carryout meals to support a local restaurant, and deliver them to a farmer over the next few weeks. You’ll be helping two sets of people at the same time.