RICHMOND, Va. — While much of the country is in a virtual standstill due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Virginia’s farmers are continuing to plant and harvest to keep the food supply chain moving.
No strangers to adversity, Virginia farmers have taken health and safety measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in stride. They have increased handwashing stations and sanitation practices, added social distancing among farmworkers and limited in-person interactions with customers and vendors.
However, providing dairy, meat and produce to an increasing number of consumers reliant on fresh food has yielded challenges, as some stores have struggled with shortages.
Farmers want the public to know that these perceived shortages are temporary, and that grocery stores are able to restock daily because of the plentiful food supply grown or raised on Virginia farms.
“The average consumer is probably going into their local grocery stores and seeing empty dairy cases. And that is obviously a concern for the consumer,” said Erin Gallahan, an Orange County dairy farmer. “I’m here to tell you though that there is not a supply problem in the United States.”
To demonstrate that consumers’ food supply is stable, farmers and other agriculture advocates are using social media to participate in the American Farm Bureau Federation-created “#StillFarming” social media campaign. The hashtag has been adopted by farmers in 50 states and they are sharing their daily work with an internet audience. According to AFBF, the hashtag has generated more than 11 million views across various social media platforms.
The increased exposure to Virginia’s farms comes at an opportune time as Virginia Agriculture Week will be celebrated May 11-15. The weeklong event showcases the success of Virginia agriculture and celebrates the farms, families and communities that contribute.
–Virginia Farm Bureau