Corrections Part III: Food Supply During COVID-19

  • Post category:Opinion

Food Shortages and Waste Galore

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One of the most visible problems we have seen is the way the food supply has been affected during the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of gallons of milk have been dumped, while grocery store shelves are empty and warehouses are full. The system is ready to feed the people, but the system was not ready for the illogical buying patterns the panic brought. Further, since the food supply globally was liable for this crisis, maybe we should take a look at correcting that system.

The United States has the advantage of being one of the nations of the world that is self-sustainable for our food supply. Our Bread Basket could produce enough food to feed the world. But we allow fields to sit fallow because of legislation and corporate interests, not just to care for the land. One of the biggest problems we see in this world is subsidy dependent industries. Farmers are the heart of this country; industrial farmers are not. The problem we are facing therein is that more and more farmers are “selling out” to become industrial farmers.

A Farmer Is Not Just a Farmer Anymore

What is the difference between a real farmer and an industrial farmer? Money. It is more profitable for farmers to grow industrial crops such as soy, switchgrass, and corn for ethanol), than it is for them to grow food crops. Incentives from the Obama and Bush regimes have subsidized farmers of these crops to the point it is often a bad decision for farmers to grow food. Food farmers, on the other hand, struggle to make ends meet as their subsidies are cut. This is another correction that we need to see. The government needs to quit paying for people to starve. End subsidies for industrial farming and transfer a part of that money back to farmers who are producing food crops.

The problem of food supply goes far beyond the US borders, however. It is believed the Coronavirus came from China because people were eating at the Chinese “Wet” markets. These markets have carcasses of dead animals laying in the hot sun for people to buy. While I personally do not care what kind of animals they eat, we need global standards of food preparation. To reach that goal, we need to make sure that there is enough food for the people of the world.

To Restructure the System

If we end the organic craze, the United States could, and possibly does, produce enough food for the whole world. Doing so is not our job. However, as good stewards, we should be teaching other countries how to use good agricultural methods to improve their own food security. Africa and several Asian countries have the potential to be global food baskets. They just need help with the technology to improve their farmable land. We have the ability to help people with this. We also have the ability to help with testing to ensure that food quality is maintained. This is why we need to work with Africa, India and China — at the corporate level — to build a better food production system.

I am not suggesting a new government program though. I am suggesting that the farmers of the world unite to create a better system. This viral outbreak should be a wakeup call to the provincial thought processes that are preventing global food source development. The global labor problem, the problem of loss of greenspace, and several other problems can be helped with a renewed effort in global agriculture. All it takes is sharing a little knowledge.

If we work together, at the corporate level, this could be the easiest correction on the list to achieve. All it takes is a willingness of the government to end the subsidies for industrial farming. Farmers must be willing to teach, even through an online platform, their counterparts around the world. People must also understand with the amount of starving people in the world this is not going to “tank” the food market. More customers need more producers, and there are millions of mouths to feed around the world.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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