COVID-19 has created challenges for farmers not only looking for a market but also seeking inputs for their operations.
Pete Bakken and his family own and operate a beef feedlot in southwest Minnesota. While other industries may be cutting back on labor, Bakken said it is not an option for farmers who still need to care for livestock.
While speaking an investment broker, the gentlemen mentioned he knew what was happening in the stock market, but not what was happening in agriculture.
“That kind of triggered my thinking as far as public awareness,” Bakken said. “Just to give consumers a public awareness of what is going on.”
He was among a group of farmers who shared their stories on a conference call with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“My dad always said not every generation can start over, and I guess that’s some of my concerns,” Bakken said.
the fourth generation on the farm, he and his family are working to keep their
“This is a management nightmare trying to do the best that you can and through no control of your own are you looking at the potential to recover from a $1 million loss,” Bakken said. “It puts you in a situation where maybe the fifth generation can’t come back to the farm.”
Bakken recognized he is fortunate to have been an established farmer.
“Even for me, this is going to hurt,” he said. “If you were a young person trying to get into the beef industry and the beef business, it gets to be a real uphill battle.”
Part of that uphill battle may come down to finding feed. As ethanol plants shut down across the country, Bakken faces the possibility of losing some of the modified distillers that he uses for about 25 percent of his livestock feed. The mix has some of the corn syrup from the process applied back into dried distiller grains.
“I rely quite heavily on the amount of these modified distillers,” Bakken said. “At this point, the ethanol plant that I get my feed from has not shot down, but we’ve already gone to an allotment amount, so we’re being rationed.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation released a six-page letter to the USDA detailing a list of requests to the administration to use its authority under the CARES Act to rescue “all sectors of agriculture” from the effects of COVID-19.