GREENFIELD –Though the COVID-19 pandemic this world is seeing currently is setting off alarm bells across many sectors, Adair County farmer Marlan Marckmann believes the wheels on the bus of agriculture in the world will continue turning round and round. It may just take awhile for things to settle down.
Marckmann has lived in the home he lives in for his entire life. He’s seen ups and downs in markets or threats to his way of life come and go and believes this situation is just another one the world is facing.
National Ag Day was Tuesday, a day set aside to salute all things agriculture.
“We went through the ‘80s, and those were economically hard times. The farm economy kind of went belly up where all the land we owned was worth half as much as it was, and that makes our balance sheet look pretty ugly,” Marckmann said. “You had all this stuff to sell, it wasn’t worth anything. You had all these bills to pay but it was a concern.”
Marckmann compares then and now and feels the situation current agriculture is in maybe isn’t quite as bad as the farm crisis was in the 1980s, though there will be strains on agriculture that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was recently talking to a farmer who had close knowledge of this pandemic in another country and feels the end might be in sight, though it may get worse before it’s better.
“Things have turned around there and they’re a lot stronger than they were before,” Marckmann said. “As far as right now, farmers are worried about the input — the fertilizer, the chemicals, seed, and a lot of that is considered essential.”
Because these materials are considered essential, they’re being produced and moved into retailers and will be available for farmers, which lessens concern.
“Everybody’s supposed to stay home, but those products are getting moved in where they should be,” Marckmann said. “Your world’s kind of turned upside down when the markets fall out of bed one day then they go back up again. We wonder what’s going on. Should we sell? We’ve got ongoing expenses everyday we’ve gotta pay for.”
Marckmann concedes that times are stressful right now. Prices for row crops have been depressed for four to five years, but there are ways to cope with that.
The word quarantine, in fact, is familiar to livestock producers who treat sick livestock.
“If they get sick, we’ll confine them or quarantine them and that’s not something new,” Marckmann said. “Now that we have a disease with people we know what to do.”
Marckmann said that Farm Bureau, an organization he’s a part of, can sometimes lobby state or federal legislators and encourage them to make decisions that positive impact agriculture in the world, especially in situations like these.
As oil prices fall, the demand for ethanol has fallen too, which will likely depress that industry, but a positive right now is the discovery that hand sanitizer, which is in high demand right now, can be made from ethanol.
“There’s always stress in agriculture, as there is in any job, and I think we’ll get through this,” Marckmann said. “It’s just going to take time.”