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Food - lockdowns are going to affect farmers if the lockdown continues

wp4

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For those who live in PDX, I would encourage you to check Bob’s Red Mill near Milwaukie. You can buy a food grade bucket and fill it with rice, black bean soup mix, vegie soup mix, whatever and the cost is not that much for what it can provide in a time of need. Our LDS friends have this dialed, so why not learn from them.
I've wondered about them recently... I no longer live in PDX so I can't swing by, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear they are SLAMMED and sold out of most everything...
 
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OldBroad44

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If you are farming on a small scale, your labor situation is uncertain even if none of it was migrant. With kids stuck at home, suddenly one parent who may have worked part or full time on your farm must now stay home and be a full time child care person. And others for whom the job was optional are no longer interested because of the risk. Local seed companies experience much more than average orders, but have lost about half their labor--the people who fill seed packets and orders. This is virtually all long-term employees, not migratory labor.

I'm a plant breeder. The farmer I collaborate with sells primarily in farmers markets. So far the farming and farmers markets are being considered essential. But will enough people go to market to make it worthwhile for farmer to take produce to market? If so, will my farmer-collaborator feel safe enough to go to the market to sell stuff? We dont know. We are rearranging plans, planning on growing more of the storeable staples, more of the squash he sells to local grocery stores, less of the perishable vegetables that he sells through farmers markets. And less overall. Its looks like there will be somewhat less to drastically less available labor. Usually his wife helps with labor bottlenecks such as planting. But she is now stuck on other side of country helping with twin grandbabies.

Because of labor problems I think there will be less fresh produce grown this summer by local farmers of all sizes, even those who do not hire migratory labor. It would be a very good time to grow a big garden.
 
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Taco_lean

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If you are farming on a small scale, your labor situation is uncertain even if none of it was migrant. With kids stuck at home, suddenly one parent who may have worked part or full time on your farm must now stay home and be a full time child care person. And others for whom the job was optional are no longer interested because of the risk. Local seed companies experience much more than average orders, but have lost about half their labor--the people who fill seed packets and orders. This is virtually all long-term employees, not migratory labor.

I'm a plant breeder. The farmer I collaborate with sells primarily in farmers markets. So far the farming and farmers markets are being considered essential. But will enough people go to market make it worthwhile going to market? If so, will my farmer-collaborator feel safe enough to go to the market to sell stuff? We dont know. We are rearranging plans, planning on growing more of the storeable staples, more of the squash he sells to local grocery stores, less of the perishable vegetables that he sells through farmers markets. And less overall. Its looks like there will be somewhat less to drastically less available labor. Usually his wife helps with labor bottlenecks such as planting. But she is now stuck on other side of country helping with twin grandbabies.

Its time to grow a garden.
Seeds are cheap! I bought 3 "buggout seed bags" from a local company where I used to live because I thought it was a cool idea.

Good planting mix and raised beds are a little more expensive. But its a nice hobby.
I noticed one of my neighbors dug in a 30x50' plot.

Its always a good time to have a garden, especially now.
 

Camelfilter

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I've wondered about them recently... I no longer live in PDX so I can't swing by, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear they are SLAMMED and sold out of most everything...
Winco and Cash & Carry sell Bobs Red Mill. No idea tho on how either one currently are as far as inventory goes tho.

I suggest checking a cash & carry first (if you have one nearby), as they also carry other sourced products besides Bob’s, all bagged. 20, 25, 50 lb bags. Oats (standard & quick), barley, rice (standard & parboil), flour, salt, lentils, beans, sugar etc etc
 
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My theory is if America becomes a poorer and economically depressed country, you will see more native-born American (white, black, brown, etc) in the farms and fields and we may actually go back to our agrarian roots. After all, if these companies have to choose between going out of business or paying American workers a legal , tax-paying salary they probably will just hire Americans and accept a profit loss. There are tons of people out of work and what better profession during a pandemic than to go work in the farms. It might beat working in the grocery stores where many workers get paid minimum wage and there now has been several employees have been sick and some have died. They say they may soon face a crisis with grocery workers with lack of protective gear wanting to keep working in the stores. Places like Wal-Mart, Kroger (i.e. Fred Meyer now ), Publix , Safeway, Albertsons might also have to increase the salaries of their workers and supply them more gear if they want to stay in business.

I don't see us getting our food from the National Guard here, as this virus is just not bad enough if employers are willing to pay brave enough people to go out and work. If we are in a horrible economic crisis there is bound to be people who will be desperate for jobs. We are not the land of prosperity right now and in poor countries, lots of people work in farming. We have just lived in a little sheltered reality for the last 6 or so decades.

Another thing is with technology, artificial intelligence, automation, robots, sadly many machine can replace the work humans do . Machine also don't get sick , demand vacations, want to unionize, etc. This is a whole other ordeal that kind of scares me. I read some articles stating that Pandemic may actually trigger a Terminator style SkyNet world. For now, they claim robots may just help workers improve their jobs, but I cannot dismiss the reality of replacing workers. In fact, just look at how many automated checkout counters they have at supermarkets today.
 
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1) Farmers have been working for decades to find ways to use machines to harvest crops. It is one thing when it is grains, which have been harvested with machines for well over a century, and another when it is something like strawberries or peaches.

Fruits are the hard ones (some veggies too) - they are very fragile, and making them non-fragile causes problems; either destroying the taste of the fruit, or picking them while not ripe and then ripening them artificially.

I have observed that local farmers have gone to machines for some cane berries, but the machines pretty much thrash the plants, and the farmers have to replant them every two years or so - we used to keep our raspberry plants for many years when we harvested by hands.

2) As for paying a "legal, tax paying" wage. We do that now. In my experience it was mostly a waste of time to get local non-hispanic workers in the field. They ate more product than they picked, they wasted the product throwing it at each other, and the product they picked was poor quality - often not ripe, or not picked properly. We often had to have a good picker go behind them and clean the row because they left ripe product on the vines to rot.

Hispanic migrant workers, those doing it to make a living that they depended on, worked many times harder than the non-hispanic workers, even those of us that grew up on the farm couldn't keep up with them. Their quality was much better too, because they wanted to be invited back.

I doubt that most people who have never grown up or worked on a farm today would be worth the trouble to get them out in the fields to work. It would take a major culture shift, lack of other work, and changes in labor laws.

I doubt that will happen.
 

ATCclears

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WSJ article from April 6, 2020.

Snippet:

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting U.S. meat operations, slowing and temporarily halting production at some plants as sickness and fear keep workers home.

Meat plant employees, working by the hundreds in plants, with many standing side by side on processing lines, play a critical role in replenishing supermarkets. But workers’ concerns that they could contract the coronavirus have prompted walkouts and complaints, while a growing number of positive cases prompts some meat companies to scale back operations.

JBS USA Holdings Inc. has closed a beef-processing plant in Souderton, Pa., for two weeks, a spokesman said over the weekend. The plant, which produces ground beef and other products and employs more than 1,000 people, gradually reduced operations last week after several managers were sent home with flulike symptoms.

Wendell Young, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which represents workers at the plant, said rising numbers of processing workers have fallen ill, and others were afraid to go to work.
“It accelerated rapidly in the previous week, and it created some production challenges,” Mr. Young said. JBS altered schedules and seating to create more distance between workers, but the nature of meatpacking work complicated those efforts, Mr. Young said.
The JBS spokesman said the temporary closure is meant to ensure the plant has sufficient management in place for its expected April 16 reopening. But for that issue, he said, the plant could operate safely.

Tyson Foods Inc. TSN 4.89% said Monday it suspended operations at its Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant after more than two dozen cases of Covid-19 were reported among employees there. The Arkansas-based company, the largest U.S. meat supplier by sales, is diverting hog deliveries from that plant to other nearby facilities, and employees are being paid during the anticipated one-week closure. Tyson is performing extra cleaning that has required some other plants to close for a day.

The slowdowns come as the $213 billion U.S. meat industry tries to adjust to the coronavirus-forced changes to American eating habits, reorienting the flow of ground beef, chicken breasts and sausage toward supermarkets and away from restaurants.

Meat supplies were high heading into the coronavirus pandemic. Total frozen chicken in U.S. cold-storage facilities on Feb. 29 stood at 925 million pounds, a record for the month, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data. Supplies of frozen pork, beef and other red meat climbed 5% versus February 2019, and were up 3% from January’s level. In 2019, the industry produced a record 105 billion pounds of red meat and poultry.


 
OP
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Besides Bob's Red Mill (which is available in many stores in smaller packages), as a habit, I pickup Cream of Rice, Grits and Malt-O-Meal (brown sugar/maple type). I mix that together. The grits give me corn and bulk, the Cream of Rice is hypoallergenic and adds smooth texture, the Malt-O-Meal adds some flavor and malted barley (high protein).

I nuke some water for 2 minutes, then pour in the mix and stir, nuke that for 30 seconds, then put in honey, cinnamon, butter and then mix that up with some granola for fiber and texture. Easy, cheap, quick to make. Bulky so it fills you up, hot and cheaper than cold cereal. Shelf-stable and space efficient. Lots of these on grocery store shelves.

 
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2) As for paying a "legal, tax paying" wage. We do that now. In my experience it was mostly a waste of time to get local non-hispanic workers in the field. They ate more product than they picked, they wasted the product throwing it at each other, and the product they picked was poor quality - often not ripe, or not picked properly. We often had to have a good picker go behind them and clean the row because they left ripe product on the vines to rot.

Hispanic migrant workers, those doing it to make a living that they depended on, worked many times harder than the non-hispanic workers, even those of us that grew up on the farm couldn't keep up with them. Their quality was much better too, because they wanted to be invited back.

I doubt that most people who have never grown up or worked on a farm today would be worth the trouble to get them out in the fields to work. It would take a major culture shift, lack of other work, and changes in labor laws.

I doubt that will happen.
I believe these "Hispanic" workers are so great because these are poor, hungry people. When they don't want to work or are financially struggling they cannot apply for welfare, receive government aid, housing, food stamps and lack of support (even family support) that these workers don't have. So, of course, hungry people are harder working and more diligent people. I actually was reading (and have seen firsthand, actually) about how the hard working ethic and spirit of immigrant workers doesn't necessarily pass down to their children who are born and raised here and have been reaping all the benefits of our society.

I also hope it doesn't happen, although I don't doubt anything , because I feel our society is on somewhat of a self-destructive course. We always believe the government will save us and that our stores will magically be filled with food, our sewers will magically operate , our hospitals will be filled with friendly doctors and medicine to keep us healthy and our police will always be there to protect us when we need to dial 911. I feel Americans (and much of Western world) has been pampered, coddled and has lived in a sheltered world for a very long time.

If AMericans become hungry people, believe me, they will stop eating all the berries in the field and work night and day if they are worried about feeding their hungry kids and cannot have Nancy Pelosi give them any more free stuff because they don't feel it is right they are poor. I was in Africa and can tell you I saw women working 90F humid heat with baby's on their back and even their children were in the fields. The Hispanic workers at my apartment complex in Tennessee were working 6 days a week , 12 hours a day in 90F-100F heat when they were building the apartments. I was shocked at how fast they built them as well. I feel horrible having to see these guys (and girls) work like that and have a dirty eye on the slimy big shot developer I see riding around the complex in his nice air conditioned vehicle while his slave laborers are out there in dreadful conditions, including women. Yes, a very attractive young Hispanic female was out there digging ditches in 90F-100F muggy heat. These people are not doing it because they have better options.
 
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OP
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I believe these "Hispanic" workers are so great because these are poor, hungry people. When they don't want to work or are financially struggling they cannot apply for welfare, receive government aid, housing, food stamps and lack of support (even family support) that these workers don't have. So, of course, hungry people are harder working and more diligent people.
Many are, but from I have also read, that the middle class and lower middle class on down, in Mexico proper, are hard working people too. So it isn't just about being in a desperate situation. I believe it is the culture and work ethic of the culture.

I actually was reading (and have seen firsthand, actually) about how the hard working ethic and spirit of immigrant workers doesn't necessarily pass down to their children who are born and raised here and have been reaping all the benefits of our society.
That may be. It also may be the culture and work ethic of their peers here - including the non-hispanic people.

I also hope it doesn't happen, although I don't doubt anything , because I feel our society is on somewhat of a self-destructive course. We always believe the government will save us and that our stores will magically be filled with food, our sewers will magically operate , our hospitals will be filled with friendly doctors and medicine to keep us healthy and our police will always be there to protect us when we need to dial 911. I feel Americans (and much of Western world) has been pampered, coddled and has lived in a sheltered world for a very long time.
I have read that people who have traveled and had exposure to other cultures in countries not as wealthy as the USA, in general also have better attitudes about such issues. I grew up and worked on the family farm and that is where I learned my work ethic - both from my family and from the people who worked on the farm for us. That is where I formed my opinions on the work ethic of hispanics vs city kids and to this day I still observe the hispanics working on these same exact farms, day in and day out as I commuted thru the same rural area on my way to work in Portland.
 
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I think it will be fine. From what Ive heard its mostly the cities that are really freaking out but the supply line backing it all is fine. The panic buying makes shelves look bare but food and other items are out there. Most shelves at stores Ive been to are fine, Only key items are bought out or rationed.

I truly believe this is just a phase and it’ll end.
 
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ZA_Survivalist I don't think you are getting the complete picture presented from those whom have contacts and have done research. Yes stores presently have supplies, re-supplies shortly aren't going to be there for the population on food for public consumption to continue. Food Banks donations have been cut in half. Hungry people are not at Peace when they have empty Bellies! Fore Warned Is To Be Fore Armed!
 
OP
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I think it will be fine. From what Ive heard its mostly the cities that are really freaking out but the supply line backing it all is fine. The panic buying makes shelves look bare but food and other items are out there. Most shelves at stores Ive been to are fine, Only key items are bought out or rationed.

I truly believe this is just a phase and it’ll end.
So far.

My intention was to get across the warning that this will change if the lockdown continues (which apparently it will) due to a shortage of migrant farm labor during the coming harvest season. Yes, right now there is food, but as the harvest season approaches/progresses, there may be labor shortages and therefore food shortages.

It takes weeks for migrant labor to move with the harvest, and if they can't easily move as needed, then farms cannot prepare for the harvest, and later, lack the labor for the harvest. This has already been shown to be a problem last year with the tighter Mexico/US border security and ICE raids on ag workers.

Hopefully it won't be as bad as some people think, but it is wise to prepare beforehand.
 
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Many are, but from I have also read, that the middle class and lower middle class on down, in Mexico proper, are hard working people too. So it isn't just about being in a desperate situation. I believe it is the culture and work ethic of the culture.

That may be. It also may be the culture and work ethic of their peers here - including the non-hispanic people.
I disagree with this in the fact that Americans actually work harder than many nations, excluding some Asian nations like China, Japan, etc. In fact, Americans take less vacations, work more hours and have more work related stress than people in many other countries. What you are talking about is the lower income portion of society who tends to receive much more in government support and has much easier jobs available to them where it would not make it feasible for them to be exposed to the harsh conditions, poor treatment and low wages that these greedy corporations and businesses have utilized hiring illegal migrant workers. BTW, it is nature of big businesses to be "greedy", I feel the government over-regulated and over-taxing our businesses has led to them to take advantage of loopholes in our system. Capitalism will always be capitalism. And trying to socialize and heavily regulate it will always lead to failures. And, I do believe Americans are hard working people with a strong work ethic, but our modern society has spoiled and ruined people to the point they figure there is no reason to engage in such hard work when they can live off the system. The fact is in America we have a class of people who work very hard , entrepreneurial (a lot of innovation comes out of USA) and generate a lot of wealth and prosperity. There is another large class of people here who want to take advantage of all that success so they can work as little as possible to reap benefits they have not earned. This class is not just growing in the USA, but in many countries around the world.

Look at migrants in Europe who are totally abusing the socialist systems in place. They get free housing, food, financial support, schooling and medical care. Many of them don't work at all and are living off of the countries, having huge families (large Islamic immigrant population , e.g.) and it is straining the social systems in Europe badly. Sweden and Norway's social systems are on the verge of collapse and this is what has caused that "right-wing" wave you keep hearing about in Europe as huge numbers of immigrants are coming to the country but not contributing to the country and rather being more of a burden on the social system than a benefit. The USA does not have as much of this problem as our legal migrant population has to go through rigorous process to be allowed to settle here and we have higher bar to refugee immigration than Europe. Nor does our country give all the benefits to legal migrants and refugees that Europe does. And, our country thrives off of the illegal immigrant labor that without a doubt is used to exploit workers to conditions that legal workers never would endure for much less pay and legal burden.

As far as Hispanic culture being harder working than American culture, I think Hispanic people are poorer and when you get to the more professional, esp white collar or even traditional blue collar realm, you will find it hard to compete of a culture of hard working people than Americans. I am in software and I have worked on average of over 12+ hrs/day for many years and this is not uncommon in my field. Many people I know in this industry work unruly hours, have no social life, no time to enjoy themselves, little vacations, serious health problems and it is a cutthroat , never-ending demanding environment.

I don't know the Hispanic people you grew up with, but I had many friends growing up with who were Hispanic and they were as lazy as any other American white or black I met. One of my best friends was Hispanic and he would skip class, smoke lots of weed, get drunk and play video games all day. As well ,there was a proportion of Hispanics I grew up with in Oregon and Washington who were involved with gangs, drugs and some were in and out of prison. Many of the Hispanic people I knew came from pretty humble and respectful roots, but definitely did not inherit the culture and morals of their parents or grandparents.

In fact, many Americans came from very hard working roots. My great grandfather use to pull his own ox cart around to do farming in his village in Belarus. When he came to America he would work long, long hours, farming, roofing, heavy labor. He was a strong man in a circus act and impressed everyone with his farming knowledge and being able to handle farming in the most rigorous conditions like in his native Belarus. I have his entire life recording that was translated into English for me where he brags about when he finally got a horse to push around his cart. He said how much more productive of a farmer he could be.

Think of all the migrants from Poland, Ireland, Italy and many of the German migrants. They came here dirt poor, like the Irish who slaved away to their death working on the railroads and the people who had to work in the coal mines.

We come from a culture of hard working people, some of the hardest. We just have lived the pampered and good life for too long. There is a lot of things I like about Hispanic culture and I do think they have a strong work ethic, but their work ethic is not so different from any other people coming from a poor country and wanting to make a better life for themselves in a wealthier country and striving to do the best they can , whereas people in the country took for granted since they were not so desperate. But, if you look at upper classes of Hispanic society ,t he ones who live comfortably they actually have a much more relaxed lifestyle , have more vacations, family time, time for parties, gatherings than American people. Latin culture in general enjoys more leisure time, family , holidays than their Anglo/Germanic counterparts.


I have read that people who have traveled and had exposure to other cultures in countries not as wealthy as the USA, in general also have better attitudes about such issues. I grew up and worked on the family farm and that is where I learned my work ethic - both from my family and from the people who worked on the farm for us. That is where I formed my opinions on the work ethic of hispanics vs city kids and to this day I still observe the hispanics working on these same exact farms, day in and day out as I commuted thru the same rural area on my way to work in Portland.
I have not met many multi-generation Hispanic people who are working 12 hour days for low pay when they can go and get a job that pays them more and works less hours. Many of the Hispanic people I meet at construction sites and farms can speak little English, are not educated and I can imagine are not legal residents. Most of Hispanics I meet who grew up in this country, get educated, find same kind of work or if they are struggling get assistance from the government just like white people or other native born Americans.

Travelling the world I also noticed that in Africa, the lower the social class of people the harder they had to work. The upper class African people I met in Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania almost seem to act like royalty and many were some of the scummiest , stuck up and aristocratic elitist a-holes I ever met. WHen you met a kind and humble wealthy person in Africa they really stuck out and you became best friends with them like I did with a wealthy gentleman who grew up poor in the village in Volta region of Ghana. He moved back to his native village, opened up a hotel there and spent alot of money trying to educate everyone in his village and build up his town. People like him were very rare there who would literally just abandon where they came from and forget those people existed, if they were one of the few fortunate ones to escape the poverty. A lot of wealth I have seen in these countries is passed down and inherited due to corruption and a strong culture of social stratification.
 
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I quit my last job on Jan 4th 2020. I was working on a farm for 11 yeas. I’m going to be straight forward About this. Ever since Donald Trump has been in office it’s been harder and harder to hire Mexican labor. Most that don’t have papers have been caught and sent back or has just gone back on their own. If they have papers they find jobs at restaurants and indoor places. Farm work is hard. Believe me I know first hand. This has been going on way before this virus sh#t. The farm I worked for even tried hiring Puerto Ricans. That was not a good idea at all. They sent HR people there to pick out and hire 60 at a time. Pay their plane fair hear, buy them cars. Give them houses to live in completely furnished with everything needed for life along with clothes. All they would do is drink,smoke pot never show up to work. When they did they were stoned or drunk. Drive the company cars to other states and just abandon them. Some would get off the plane here in Portland and just hop on another to a totally different state to never be seen again. And t isn’t like they don’t pay enough. Starting as a field worker is $2. Hour of current minimum just to find people. Tractor operators and lift drivers they pay $17.25+. A few of them I knew has also just quit to work in construction.

So yes there is a shortage of bodies in the farming business.
 

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