STATEWIDE — It’s springtime which means farmers are getting ready to or have already planted their crops in fields all across Indiana.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected every facet of farming, according to Bob White with the Indiana Farm Bureau. He told Inside Indiana Business that the virus hasn’t had a huge effect on planting like the weather did last year. But he said the distribution system farmers use to sell their crops has been “turned on its head.”
“You’ve got a lot of the food processing industry that will go wholesale instead of retail (this year),” said White. “So now you want more to go to the grocery stores because more people are staying at home and cooking at home.”
Selling wholesale means more of the farmers’ product is being bought in bulk by grocery stores, but for a cheaper price per unit. White said with restaurants and schools closed and unable to buy food products from farmers, sales to grocery stores since the pandemic started have gone way up.
Even then he said that’s not enough to offset the losses farmers are seeing, even though they are technically selling more of their products.
To help make up for those losses, Congress passed the massive coronavirus relief package that put money directly in the pockets of the American people. As part of the package, the USDA is offering funding programs for farmers who need the financial help to the tune of $19 billion.
On top of that, the Trump administration said it will purchase $3 billion worth of milk, meat, and fresh produce. Those products will be distributed to food banks, community organizations and charities.
“This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.