Farmers Struggle To Adapt To Changing Market Conditions

More problems in the farming industry continue, and as the Los Angeles Times notes by way of Yahoo! News, farmers are struggling to adapt to changing market conditions.

Near downtown Los Angeles, a meat processing plant ramped up production even as it worked to keep frontline employees separated from one another. In Salinas, Calif., a lettuce grower hustled to redirect supply after being forced to plow under unused crops.

In the Bay Area, a food distributor that previously served restaurants started selling produce boxes directly to consumers. Near the Mexico border, a food bank expanded distribution to meet an explosion of need. And in Hollywood, a nonprofit that has served sit-down meals to homeless people for 33 years shifted to takeout.

“We’ve completely had to change what we’re doing,” said Sherry Bonanno, executive director of the Hollywood Food Coalition. “We just keep adapting and adjusting.”

In less time than it takes a farmer to plant and harvest a head of lettuce, the nation’s entire food industry has been flipped on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic. An intricate system for matching supply with demand, established over decades, has been thrown out of whack just as unemployment and food insecurity are skyrocketing among families.

The fallout has been particularly severe in California, where more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown — and where hunger and homelessness were already deeply entrenched.

In response, a vast network of food producers, distributors, retailers and advocates have been scrambling to find a new equilibrium, to shore up the nation’s food supply and their own bottom lines while reducing waste and want. (source)

I would like to give a little more analysis of the food shortage situation, as the matter is not one related to an actual shortage, but political and logistics conditions.

There’s two logistical structures, the one that makes food for individual people, and the one that does so at an industrial scale. Different companies deal with different parts, and one part switched off in March. In order to avoid a deflation of prices, farmers are going to suppress the prices by destroying crops and livestock, those that aren’t already bankrupt. Some of this, as I have noted, will be driven by contracts. Basically, it’s a perfect storm as this act alone will guarantee shortages.

Then, there is the restaurant issue. People have been overconsuming produce that ends up in garbage through restaurants/hotels and tourism that now is down (not exaggerating) about 99%. People cooking in home stopped the overconsuming. Ranchers and farmers in the US are working with centralised distributors and big stores. All the small butcher businesses have been overtaken by Costco style stores.

There is a sharp drop not rise in demand for the time being. This is why they are spilling milk. So all the people in first line of agriculture with the huge loans are going bust. Later on when they go bust, and cant feed their animals, or yield new crops, there is going to be a huge famine unless they get subsidies for the unsold food.

Just look at the dairy industry. They lose money with every gallon they sell, but they can’t stop milking either because the cows will die. It’s getting so bad that farmers are killing perfectly good dairy cattle so they don’t continue losing money. Industrial dairies are not set up for cattle not to produce milk. They are purpose-built facilities for producing milk, and nothing else, and if demand does return suddenly, those who are not able to produce on demand will get taken out.

The situation is very bad, and it is the result of many years of bad policies, mostly rooted in selfishness, being exposed through a single incident. There is going to be no easy way out, but the wisest thing that a man can do is to begin taking care of his own food needs as best as possible while stocking up on food.

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