Coronavirus has more Americans turning directly to farms for food

“It’s great for farmers and ranchers. We all hope things will continue after this end, but I think in some ways that will be the case,” said Mary Heffernan, with her family in Fort Jones, California, runs a cattle farm.

“I think it was a wake-up call for consumers to realize that they can easily go straight to the source and buy from farmers who can deliver to their doorstep in the US as easily as an Amazon package.”

Five Marys Farms, Heffernan’s operation, typically ship around 15,000 pounds of beef, pork and lamb each month, Heffernan said. But that amount has risen to over £ 35,000 in the past two weeks, and the farm has received orders from both returning customers and a flood of new customers.

“The business has been very active,” said Hannah Neeleman, who grows pork and beef on the Ballerina Farm in Kamas, Utah. “As people stay and cook more of their meals and take care of food storage, the increase in our online meat sales has been significant. We ship nationwide and the trend has proven itself in all states. “

However, local farms have also been plagued by bottlenecks, such as the well-known food mail order companies, which are rushing to hire more workers to keep up with rapid demand.

Instacart, Amazon and Walmart’s grocery delivery services also saw an increase – Earnest Research estimates that sales increased last week by at least 65 percent compared to the same period last year.

However, many of these companies have been paralyzed by delays in the supply chain and are now facing worker strikes as employees demand better security protection and better pay.

The South Mountain Creamery, which supplies milk, eggs, products and meat in the Washington DC region, is “overwhelmed with orders,” said CEO Tony Brusco. His company, based in Middletown, Md., No longer had to accept new customers and reduce orders for meat and ice cream.

Nevertheless, farms based on supply contracts are only part of the local agricultural sector that has had problems on average since the outbreak began. According to an analysis by agricultural economists, local and regional agricultural and food markets will lose up to $ 700 million in sales by May due to the stoppages caused by the corona virus.

Heffernan believes that the outbreak has shown that the public can support family businesses that choose to diversify product sales and that more businesses may start shipping instead of relying on farmers’ markets and other channels.

“It is good timing for farmers and ranchers who have started [shipping] earlier and good for farmers and ranchers to realize that there is a direct consumer market, “she says. “It has to be easy.”

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