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Stepping up in a time of need

Even with the hard times farmers are facing, many are helping to feed others during the pandemic.

Chris Torres

May 11, 2020

13 Slides
Aerial view of cars waiting for free dairy products at Taylor Pride Farms in Lawrenceville, Pa.

It’s been a challenging spring for farmers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast because of COVID-19.

The dairy market has all but collapsed, beef producers have struggled getting finished cattle to market, processing plants have closed and millions of chickens have had to be euthanized.

Yet, even in the wake of all these struggles, farmers and farm organizations have stepped up to the plate to help people in need. It seems every week I get an email or see something on Facebook about an event or food drive that local farmers are either participating in or organizing.

Just this week I found out about a tractor parade at a rehabilitation center put on by an antique tractor club in central Pennsylvania. Current and retired farmers brought their tractors to Laurel Lakes Rehabilitation Center in Chambersburg to put smiles of people’s faces and to help get their minds off what’s happening in our world.

The Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council, the Pennsylvania Pork Strategic Investment Program and industry partners teamed up to provide almost 90,000 pounds of protein to Feeding Pennsylvania. And I’ve lost count of the many dairy “drive-thrus” and donation events that have popped up throughout the region.

American Dairy Association North East helped coordinate a dairy drive at the Destiny USA shopping mall in Syracuse, N.Y., where two trailer loads of 8,000 gallons of milk, donated by Dairy Farmers of America, were handed out to families in need.

Nearly 2,200 cars passed through the line.

One of American Agriculturist’s columnists, Shelby Watson Hampton, stepped up to the plate to make face shields for her local hospital. Using a laminating machine, laminating sheets, elastic and some self-adhering window seal foam, she and her husband made 54 face shields for people on the front lines of the pandemic.

Farmers are struggling right now. This pandemic has raised lots of questions about the viability of our food system in the middle of an emergency.

Sadly, many farmers won’t make it.

But to see so many farmers step up to the plate to help feed others just shows you the resiliency farmers have.

Yes, times are bad right now, but seeing the generosity of the farming community gives me hope that the future is bright and that we’ll all get through this together.

In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of generous farmers giving back.

Read more about:

Covid 19

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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