Coronavirus and Our Interconnected Food System

    March 19, 2020

The coronavirus reminds us just how interconnected our food system is. 

While the food supply appears to be, as of today, remaining steady, questions abound about the impacts we may see. For starters, the virus is impacting thousands of farmworkers who pick, process, and pack fruits and vegetables for U.S. consumers. With border closures, there is uncertainty around how labor shortages – in particular, seasonal and guest workers –  might affect the food supply and the rapidly approaching planting season. And with the close of schools, many farmworkers, including those who pack for distribution, will have to stay at home with their children.

There is also concern with how close living conditions of migrant workers during the growing season will impact the spread of the virus. “Historically, farmworkers are so used to not having healthcare they just put up with being sick,” said Armando Elenes, secretary-treasurer of the United Farm Workers, told the Los Angeles Times. Janeth Tapia, outreach coordinator for NC-based CommWell Health, said that migrant farmworkers are used to working through illness and are reluctant to reveal that they are sick for fear of being sent to their home countries before the end of the growing season.

Fair Farms extends our deep appreciation to the agricultural community, which continues to labor in service of feeding the world. And we send sympathy to all those whose paycheck is impacted with hopes for a pathway to economic stability on the near horizon.

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