Farming becomes latest industry to suffer financially from COVID-19 outbreak

The latest industry to suffer financially by the coronavirus outbreak is farming.

News 12 Staff

Apr 1, 2020, 12:12 AM

Updated 1,513 days ago

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The latest industry to suffer financially by the coronavirus outbreak is farming. 
Greenhouses are closed, as are equine facilities, riding stables, breweries and winery tasting rooms. 
With so many schools, businesses and restaurants closed, demand for local produce and dairy has plummeted.
"We're really seeing our farmers trying to pivot and move into direct retail or wholesale into retail opportunities they haven't been a part of before," says Todd Erling, executive director of Hudson Valley AgriBusiness.

That part is working. Erling says sales are way up at farms, selling directly to communities in markets or delivery. But not every farm can do that, and it's the dairy farmers feeling it the most.

"The challenge is many farmers are not being paid what it cost them to produce the milk," says Erling. 

Since 2012, the state lost 2,000 dairy farms - with more possibly on the horizon. After four years of depressed prices, the unstable economy is causing milk prices to drop further from $20 for 100 pounds to a projected low of $13 by next month.


"They were struggling before this crisis with the trade war that we had with China, and the tariffs that were really causing a lot of havoc for our farmers. Combine that with the cost of production. So you can imagine the kind of pain that they're experiencing," says Rep. Antonio Delgado. 

Delgado, who represents the 19th District and its 5,000 mostly family-owned farms, championed $9.4 billion in disaster relief for small and mid-sized farms in the third emergency relief bill signed into law Friday.

"This is just really helping our farmers who might otherwise go under as a result of the conditions right now, the acute pain they're experiencing," he says. 

Farms facing financial struggles because of the coronavirus can apply for that relief through the USDA website.

With most of America under tight restrictions and most people staying home or working from home, there's a worry migrant workers won't be able to get into the United States because of the coronavirus and help out the farmers who need it. 
Delgado says he is working on the issue and trying to make sure farmers don't go without that work force they need and rely on. 
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