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American farmers get to work, despite deadly pandemic

Kansas farmer Lon Frahm asked employees to keep space between them during meetings at the farm’s headquarters. He also created a separate conference room at the farm where he meets vendors and visitors.
“We are functioning pretty well but very much aware of how serious the virus is for us and the whole country.”

The world may be in an economic lock down, but farmers continue to conduct business as well as possible. In the United States, food chain disruptions slashed meat supplies by as much as 30% as workers in close quarters come down ill with COVID-19 in the country’s slaughterhouses. On the farm, where social distancing is easier, farmers are planting and doing their best to manage the usual risks – bad weather – as well as protecting their business and families.

“The pandemic certainly has caused us to reevaluate a lot of our management strategies, from employees to fuel costs and merchandizing our grain,” says Decatur, Ind., farmer John Nidlinger. 

Kansas farmer Lon Frahm made several changes to how his farm conducts business, some of which he hopes to continue after the threat subsides. “I’ve locked the front door at my office in town and ask everyone to make appointments -- which I’m really enjoying – no interruptions, no drop-ins,” he says. “FedEx and UPS use the vestibule airlock instead of barging in.” Another example of a COVID-19 change that might stick? “We did all the County Treasurer stuff – truck tag renewals, updating titles and turning in old tags … through a drop box in the parking lot. It saved lots of time and fuss. I can’t imagine myself willingly going back to the old way.”

Here’s a look at how some American farmers are handling their daily business despite the pandemic.

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