Arizona Farmers and Ranchers and Your Food Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The following Statements come from Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse
Arizona, March 18, 2020 - "Currently, the production of food in this country is strong as Arizona farmers and ranchers continue to follow the cycle that mother nature dictates and not the volatility of the financial markets. There are ample supplies in frozen storage facilities and raw agricultural products are being shipped to stores and food processors as they always have. In addition, continued restrictions on public gatherings will likely have an impact on demand for some farm products and shift supplies to grocers and away from restaurants and other similar commercial markets, helping to adjust the flow of goods to match demand.
"However, farmers don't control the integration of the rest of the supply chain and other factors could disrupt distribution including higher than expected demand at retail establishments and other policy decisions related to the pandemic. For example, Mexico's decision to severely restrict the border to legal worker crossings could impact the supply chain for leafy greens and other fresh vegetables. In Yuma County and Imperial County, where we produce 85% of the U.S. supply of leafy greens this time of year, we will still need 40,000 to 50,000 harvesters working each day in vegetable fields. Of those, 15,000 harvesters cross daily into the U.S. from San Luis, Mexico to come work harvesting lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.
"The limiting cancellation of routine immigration services will undoubtedly have an impact on the availability of fresh produce, not because we aren't able to produce it, but because we already have a labor shortage in agriculture, and this will exasperate that shortage. If we can't get produce out of the field, then we can't restock the grocer's bins or your plate.
"As Arizona farmers and ranchers, we're committed to doing our best to supply to local, national and global markets. In agriculture, we are our brother's keeper in good times and bad. We commend the work of all those who continue to toil to make sure our food demands are met and pray for a speedy resolution to this global pandemic."
About Arizona Farm Bureau
The Arizona Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and improving the Arizona agriculture industry through member involvement in education, outreach, political activities, programs and services. As a member services organization, individuals can become a member by contacting the Farm Bureau online. Go to www.azfb.org to learn more about Arizona agriculture.