COVID-19 pandemic revealed problems and pushed lasting changes in the food chain
December 31, 2020
FARGO - As the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., restaurants and bars closed or were limited to takeout and delivery. Offices closed, keeping workers home and changing normal lunch stops. Schools closed, changing where students ate breakfast and lunch. Millions lost jobs and found themselves with less income to purchase food.
Those changes meant more people in grocery stores and fewer in restaurants. It meant reduced quantities of some items on grocery store shelves and higher prices for others. And it meant big changes for those who raise, process and serve food, as well as those who consume it.
"You see people lining up for donations at food banks. You see empty grocery store shelves. At the same time, you see farmers who are dumping milk, plowing under fields of onions and squash, and most recently reports of having to euthanize hogs" - the result of "mismatches in our food supply chain," said Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, during a May 12 webinar on "Global Trade: A Pandemic Primer" hosted by the National Press Foundation.