Stories of an increasingly fragile food system are creeping into the news these days.
Five hundred workers at the nation’s largest pork processing plant in South Dakota have fallen ill with Covid-19, causing it to close indefinitely. The nation’s meat supply is becoming more vulnerable.
With most restaurants, colleges, and schools closed around the country, the farm to restaurant and farm to institution sector has come to a screeching halt. Pictures of crops rotting in the field juxtaposed to never-ending lines of cars waiting for a bag of groceries from the local food bank raise the spectre of the Great Depression.
Farm and grocery workers are deeply concerned about their own health, as they become essential employees on the frontlines of the pandemic.
EcoFarm is doing its part to ameliorate the crisis for our community. We’re working with national partners to get USDA to allocate the $9.5 billion that Congress approved into the pockets of small farmers. We’re teaming up with sister organizations to host virtual educational events like Farming During Covid-19 and regularly updating our Covid-19 webpage.
EcoFarm will soon be launching a virtual Farmer to Farmer Conversation Series to connect aspiring and experienced farmers and to facilitate mutual aid among our peers during this difficult time. And with the help of community members, we’ll be sharing stories from women farmers and farmers of color and how they are confronting the challenges of Covid-19. There are good things happening.
We are also doing a lot of planning and internal development. We’ve launched a long-awaited reinvention of the EcoFarm Conference planning process to be more inclusive, efficient, and strategic. I strongly encourage you to submit a workshop proposal by the June 1st deadline, especially if it addresses the food system in the wake of the pandemic.
We’re also making contingency plans for EcoFarm Conference 2021. First and foremost we want our community to be healthy and safe. We would never do anything to endanger that. We’re considering our options. There will be a 41st conference next year. It might be held January 20-23 as planned. It might get postponed or it might go virtual. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop once we have a clearer picture.
Last but not least, we’re participating in the Racial Equity Challenge, educating ourselves and strategizing on how EcoFarm can strengthen our analysis and hone our actions towards becoming a force for racial equity and social justice.
Stay healthy and safe.