Agriculture is an Essential Business

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A cow and calves from the Wheel Horse Farm, Ripley N.Y.
A cow and calves from the Wheel Horse Farm, Ripley N.Y.

“It’s business as usual with adherence to the CDC’s and USDA’s guidelines for human safety. The things we have all been seeing and reading, washing your hands, etc.,” according to Lisa Kempisty, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Agriculture Community Educator (Dairy & Livestock), “the important piece is don’t panic. The dairy producers we have spoken with are well informed of the health and safety guidelines. There is no evidence that livestock are a source of infection or can spread the virus.”

Busy time of year

Ms. Kempisty went on to add that this is a busy time of year for all agriculture businesses, from dairy to beef to crops, “agriculture businesses are moving ahead with their usual work, to produce an abundant and safe food supply.” The maple season is wrapping up, milk production remains steady, the beef cows are calving and the crop farmers are getting ready to plow. This is a time of preparation for the upcoming growing season.

Local Producers: Maple and Diary

Lloyd Munsee, who owns Big Tree Maple with his son David, said, “the season was pretty normal, average quantity and excellent quality.” According to Munsee the season started earlier than normal in early January. It is finishing up now, which is a little early too.” The onset of the Covid 19 virus canceled the statewide Maple Weekend along with many local pancake breakfast events. However, one can buy the delicious syrup throughout the County. “My biggest concern is if this virus impacts the summer visitors to the area, then we will have a real economic problem,” added Munsee. The store is well stocked with all things maple; syrup to candy to coffee, and eggs, which the main grocery stores seem to be short on.

Wheel Horse Farm in Ripley is an organic dairy farm. Co-owner Frank Saxton says, “everything is pretty much the same as usual. I had a conference call with the milk processing company the other day, they reinforced following the CDC health guidelines. I think the main concern is what will happen at the processing plants with the virus spread. But for now, all is operating as usual.”

Covid-19 and supply chains

From gas stations to large chain stores, grocery shelves are empty. “Our supply chain is experiencing a truly unprecedented event with this crisis. We have never seen levels like this across the United States. And that’s actually impacting supply chains,” said Greg Ferrara, president of the National Grocers Association in the United States. “So, when you go into a store, if you see empty shelves, it’s taking us a while to get the product flowing through supply chain back to the stores. But it is coming. It is coming through our warehouses. It is coming to the stores. There is plenty of supply in the supply chain,” he explained.

Locally, Ms. Kempisty said, “I’ve had a few requests from residents wanting information on buying their meats and vegetables locally to be closer to the food supply and to support local farmers.” There is a list of local farms on the Cornell website at chautauqua.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua-grown.

While there has been a hiccup in the supply chain, the farms are producing as usual. Let’s use scientific information and common sense to beat Covid 19