YOUR TEXAS AGRICULTURE MINUTE
Agriculture has always been critical, essential
By Gary Joiner
The unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak have put a spotlight on our nation’s food supply. The good news is there’s available food now and in the pipeline to feed our country.
As special orders are issued to residents to help contain the virus, governments are recognizing the value of American agriculture. Orders are declaring farming, ranching and all aspects of food production as critical or essential services.
Those food processes will continue, uninhibited. That ability will be a big part of our nation surviving this crisis.
Don’t be misled, though. Farmers and ranchers are experiencing serious economic impacts from the pandemic, just like so many.
Maintaining stable and fair markets in agriculture is especially critical. As the stock market has plunged, so have commodity markets across the board. It is essential that we keep a close watch and make sure tools for farmers and ranchers such as low-interest loans and other assistance is available.
Since COVID-19 was confirmed in China on Jan. 14, nearby futures prices for major commodities have significantly declined — live cattle, down nearly 23 percent; corn, down more than 13 percent; cotton, down almost 23 percent; soybeans, down nearly 10 percent; and wheat, down more than 7 percent.
Livestock owners in Texas are concerned about market manipulation and are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor the situation. U.S. growers of fresh produce are worried about possible dumping of products from other countries.
These are just a few of the concerns. Add impacts to supply chains, agricultural labor, trade, trucking and federal inspections to the list. The impacts are real and serious for those producing food, fiber and fuel.
Times like this remind all of us of the importance of ensuring our nation’s food security. We must protect it. It can’t be taken for granted.
The preceding commentary is brought to you by Texas Farm Bureau, the “Voice of Texas Agriculture.” Called “Your Texas Agriculture Minute,” TFB will issue thought-provoking editorials each week—via print and audio—to spark understanding of agriculture in the Lone Star State and its impact on each and every Texan.
You may read this week’s editorial above or listen to the audio version.
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