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How farmers are fighting for our food

Covid-19 has changed the way we live, demanding our resilience to keep going. Especially farmers, who have had to dig deep to cope with sudden and major disruption to supply, production and logistics. 

Farmers are working day in, day out to keep us fed and healthy. It certainly hasn’t been without its hardships though and they need our support now more than ever as they continue to produce food and help sustain global food security.

Keeping us healthy 

Livestock farmers have a vital role in providing us with the nourishment we need in our diets, particularly at this time when preserving our health is so critical. 

Meat, milk and eggs are important sources of protein, helping to keep us feeling full. Plus, these foods provide us with essential nutrients, like vitamin D, known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ which is particularly important right now while many people are restricted from going outside.  

Thanks to farmers, in many parts of the world, meat, milk and eggs continue to reach supermarkets, so we still have access to these nutrient-rich foods. 

For the most vulnerable people across the world, food and nutrition security continues to be a concern. Organisations, like the FAO, are working to provide smallholder farmers in these areas with livestock, tools and animal health support, so they can continue producing animal food products for the local community. 

Adapting to change 

Farmers have been forced to adapt quickly to huge spikes and drops in demand. Consumers across the world stockpiled food in those first weeks of lockdown measures being announced, while restaurants closures removed an integral part of the food supply chain.

Meanwhile, restrictions on the movement of goods and necessary changes on farm to maintain socialdistancing measures among workers have meant farmers have had to modify their operations to keep activities as safe as possible.

Farmers are working with governments to find solutions to the rapidly changing situation. The EU Commission has outlined proposals to grant aid for storage of milk, meat and dairy products. In the US, where major poultry producers and hatcheries have been forced to slow production or idle factories, authorities announced a $19bn immediate relief programme to help farmers who have experienced losses. And the FAO has assembled a dedicated Covid-19 Fisheries and Aquaculture Task Force to assess and address the impact of the disease on the sector.

Diversifying to sell their produce and look after their livestock 

Farmers are finding new ways to sell their produce and look after their livestock. Smaller farmers are turning online to sell direct to customers, using online delivery services and promoting themselves via social media. 

Digital could provide the solutions farmers need right now. Some believe interest in on-farm digital technology – such as digital devices that can track and monitor livestock and enhance animal welfare – will be stronger than ever because producers have been forced to rethink how they farm. Industry bodies are also calling for greater implementation of new technologies to create a more robust industry.

Farmers are not alone – our report, Covid-19: How we are acting, showcases some great examples of how retailers, animal health organisations and veterinarians are all working together with farmers to help us all get through this crisis. 

There is still a way to go until production returns to normal but as countries start to ease measures by opening bars and restaurants things are looking up. In the meantime, we must all do our bit to support our farmers.