The coronavirus pandemic continues to create challenges for and in some situations, overwhelm the rural community. As lawmakers in Washington D.C. debate what another round of COVID-19 assistance may look like, the National Farmers Union is asking that more than the bottom line be considered.
NFU President Rob Larew recently penned a letter to the Senate, in which it pointed out that while the pandemic created a number of problems, many of those issues were on top of existing struggles, damaging the economic environment for farmers. For example, he noted the ongoing problem of low commodity prices is not something that’s going to go away once the pandemic is over.
“For some of the processing facilities, particularly in livestock, and we’ve seen all of the stories in beef and in hogs, that we have such a concentrated market out there, that when you have a few of the biggest plants go down, that has ripple effects back to the independent farmer or rancher, and those are the kinds of challenges that we need to have addressed.”
Larew added the economic impact of coronavirus could push thousands of small and mid-sized operations out of business. But, Larew noted many small communities are suffering in other ways. Specifically communities that still have a rural hospital. He noted despite what you may here on the national scene, COVID-19 cases are not limited to hospitals in large cities.
“Under the best of conditions they struggle to stay afloat, and those folks on the front lines are continuing to be there, and with this pandemic particularly in a lot of rural areas where we are seeing cases rise those facilities are getting hit especially hard.”
Larew pointed out that many rural communities nationwide have lost their hospital over the past 10-15 years, and he fears that number could increase in the wake of the pandemic.
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