Posted by Marc Henninger | 17/04/2020
In times of global adversity, we are even more dependent on our worldwide community of farmers to protect our health, writes Elanco’s Market Access Manager and veterinarian Marc Henninger.
We have much to be thankful for – even in these extraordinary times. We have healthcare professionals giving everything they have on the frontline for our benefit, and people providing the essential services that keep our homes running and our most vulnerable cared for.
At Elanco, we’re especially grateful for the animal companions supporting the mental wellbeing of people in isolation across Europe.
But today, I’d like to give our thanks to the farming community keeping us fed and healthy in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The pace of change has been breath-taking; in just a few short weeks, otherwise stable farm-to-fork supply chains have had to cope with panic buying and unprecedented demand for meat, milk and eggs.
There have even been reports in the US that a fear of egg shortages is leading people to go as far as buying backyard chickens so they can secure their supply.1
In recognition of their essential role, farmers have been classified as key workers but producers fear a ‘perfect storm’ as Covid-19 restrictions on people movement create a labour shortage on farms across Europe.
This should be of grave concern to us all, as food sources go to waste on farms because there simply aren’t the people to get this food to our door. In the UK, there are even calls from The Country Land and Business Association to retrain people out of work during the crisis as farm workers to make up for a shortfall of 80,000 people.
In France, an original initiative was launched #desbraspourtonassiette – which translates as #armsforyourplate – to find temporary workers for farms.
These are problems that need ambitious, daring solutions. In the midst of a health crisis, it is of utmost importance that we safeguard everyone’s health – especially that of our farmers as they continue to work day in, day out – and a balanced diet is key. That’s why we must find ways to support our farming communities so they can continue to support us.
This is a situation that will prompt a great deal of soul-searching for many of us, as a question mark hangs over things we may have once taken for granted: the abundance of food, the way we shop, and even our relationship with the land.
One thing remains beyond question for me, however; that we shouldn’t take our community of farming professionals for granted and we should do what we can to show our support now and in future.