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The current Covid-19 pandemic that has led most, if not all, the countries to shut down the economy, in order to slow down the spread of the virus, is affecting the global food systems, disrupting regional agricultural value chains, and posing risks to household food security.
Livestock farming plays a vital contribution in food supply of rural and urban areas, and it gives off a wide diversity of products that range from milk, meat, wool, fibre, eggs, feathers, hides and skin.
It is also vital as it creates employment, stimulates demand for goods and services, as well as promoting economic transformation by contributing to human and financial capital for other sectors of the economy to develop (Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2018).
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the crop and livestock price is likely to tumble by more than 12%. This also affects the farm income by $20 billion, according to FAPRI. The dairy industry has also been affected during the pandemic. According to Professor Hart (2020), the price of milk has decreased by $4-7 of 100 lbs (initial price $16-18).
Covid-19 limitations to mobility also have increased the demand of organic and local food sources.
Therefore, farmers have opted to stock up on raw materials and crop supplies in particular, however, if the consumption drops dramatically in the aftermath economic crisis, they may not be able to recover after the emergency is over.
Despite the increase of subscriptions in the community-supported agriculture systems, with reported cases of seed companies being flooded with sales, farmers and companies are facing some challenges in supplies delivery due to the social distancing that is ongoing during the pandemic (Vollstedt, 2020).
The effects of lockdown; which involves a large part of the world’s countries, can be recognized in the increase of domestic consumptions and the inability of both industrial and small businesses to supply for the demand.
This leads to lower incomes for businesses in the industry and may affect their ability to recover from this decrease in gain even when the situation will get back to normal, mainly because their cash flow may be insufficient to get back to usual productive volumes.
Best livestock practices to put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic
Companies and farmers should stay well informed about the COVID-19 in order to limit the transmission of the virus. They should also have a plan of action and we hope we can provide some useful advice and tools to support farmers during this period.
Best practices to put in place on the farm
Employers should ensure that they employees are adhering to all the rules put in place during this pandemic:
- Maintaining distances of about 2m
- Santisiers and cleaning chemicals are at main entrances within the workplace.
- Masks and protective gears should be worn at all times.
- On-set healthcare professionals to ensure that workers are not sick/ill
- Use online payments, highly recommended during the pandemic
- Ensure that the vehicles that transport employees to and from work are frequently disinfected, there should be maximal ventilation.
- The number of employees transported every day should be minimized,
- External visitors should be minimized.
- Employees that are highly subsequent/vulnerable should continue to work from home.
- All equipments, tools surfaces and the environment should be kept clean.
Best practices to put in place for animals
Since there were no cases reported for the transmission of COVID-19 from livestock animals to humans, it is highly recommended that farmers continue to rear, keep, care and maintain their livestock. Despite the fact that no cases were reported, it is still important to follow some hygiene practices, as listed above.
It is important to put measures into practice so that animals are kept in a humane condition and are constantly monitored, in order to be able to receive high quality medical care and psychological support if needed.
Don’t abandon your farm and animals, dedicate instead more time to your and their safety by adopting new methods of monitoring your farm, also collaborating remotely with your staff.
Best practices to put in place for productivity
- Plan and map the farm’s financial situation, resources and needs, in order to be able to evaluate whether to decrease production to avoid having great amounts of production in excess that cannot be traded and sold, or worse may lead to massive cullings of livestock in order to lower costs.
- Promote the use of social media to advertise farm and livestock products and find new buyers or customers, better if in the nearbies of the farm.
- Apply special discounts in retail selling or towards usual and trusted buyers if possible.
Kurns D., 2020 The U.S. Food Supply? AG companies will start to look at their inventory levels going forward. Retrieved from What do plant closures mean to the U.S. food supply?
Vollstedt M., 2020. How organic and local food markets are affected by COVID-19. Organic and local food sources experiencing heightened demand during coronavirus. Retrieved from How organic and local food markets are affected by COVID-19
Best practices to avoid the spread of coronavirus for seasonal workers on fruit and vegetable farms. Retrieved from Social distancing for farm businesses
Best practices to improve the sales’ perspectives during the Coronavirus emergency. Retrieved from Coronavirus: consumer marketing support
Gostin L. O., Berkman B. E., n.d. Preparing for pandemic influenza: Legal and ethical challenges. Retrieved from Strategies for Disease Containment – Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018. Shaping the future of livestock: Sustainably responsibly, efficiently. Global Forum for Food and Agriculture. Berlin. Retrieved from Shaping the future of livestock
Cullen M. T., 2020. COVID-19 and the risk to food supply chains: How to respond?. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from COVID-19 and the risk to food supply chains: How to respond?