Trust in America’s farmers and ranchers remains high amid the devastating blow delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new American Farm Bureau Federation poll shows 84% of Americans trust the nation’s farmers and the same overwhelming majority support financial assistance from the government for farmers struggling to keep from going under because of the pandemic.
“The results of the survey indicate a growing understanding of how important a stable food supply is to the health and well-being of our nation,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Shortages at grocery stores and other food supply chain shockwaves caused by the pandemic gave many people a new understanding of the crucial role of America’s farmers and ranchers and the importance of their survival through the COVID-19 economic storm. It is so heartening to know that through it all, the American people’s trust in farmers is unwavering.”
Many struggling farmers were left out of initial federal aid, and some who received assistance are still being hurt by COVID-19 losses. USDA estimates suggest the decline in commodity value alone for 2019, 2020 and 2021 production totals almost $50 billion. This does not include all of agriculture’s losses, which would be billions more.
When the pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders, the market for several crops disappeared almost overnight, causing prices paid to farmers to drop drastically. It came at a time when farmers were already facing economic challenges following two years of trade wars. Farm bankruptcies for the 12-month period ending March 2020 increased 23% from the previous year and are expected to climb higher as a result of the pandemic. Because the pandemic shockwaves continue to cause agricultural losses, the American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on lawmakers to address critical needs that still exist for farmers impacted by COVID-19.
More broadly, the poll also reveals that a majority of Americans, 59%, also believe the federal government should classify U.S. agriculture as a matter of national security to ensure a stable food supply. Addressing agricultural labor shortages, ensuring farm and food worker safety, and protecting trade partnerships to stabilize agricultural markets are all part of prioritizing U.S. agriculture.