North Dakota Ag Groups Stress Importance of Agriculture Amid Pandemic
North Dakota growers say they're facing a unique set of challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak
FARGO, N.D. — Thirteen agricultural organizations across North Dakota are coming together to underscore the concern of food availability during the pandemic.
In a letter to President Trump and other Washington officials, the groups write, “As the COVID-19 issues continue, we would respectfully request that your administration be mindful of the challenges agriculture faces in these difficult times.”
Those at the North Dakota Grain Growers Association say transportation is one of the main challenges those in ag could be facing.
“Grain has to go to market to make flour for wheat to make the bread. Livestock’s gotta be transferred to processing to keep meat on the shelves,” says Dennis Haugen with the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. “Fertilizer, you know, spring is right around the corner here. We have to have transportation available to get fertilizer out here for our crops.”
Another rising concern is the lack of H-2A workers, who travel from overseas seasonally to perform the labor many farmers count on.
“With all the travel restrictions, we got a lot of people that regularly use these temporary, in-season help. Without being able to get these guys here, we’re drastically short on skilled labor,” says Haugen.
A shortage of skilled laborers wouldn’t affect just one or two farms.
It would impact an industry that Haugen says Americans can’t afford to be damaged.
“Agriculture has to go on without missing a beat. I mean, the world still has to be fed.”
That has become more clear than ever, as people continue to stock up and fill their pantries in the wake of the pandemic.
“All of a sudden, this last week when grocery stores and shelves were empty, it was a very stark reality for the public to realize that the food supply is something they’ve basically taken for granted forever,” says Haugen.
The letter urges those in Washington to help ensure that “agriculture can adequately produce the food necessary to feed the world.”
The organizations have yet to receive a response to their letter.