Sink, VFBF VP, finding new ways in trying times
RINER, Va. — Finding new ways of doing things has been the case for many farmers during the coronavirus epidemic, including one diversified Virginia farmer and industry leader.
Scott Sink, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vice president, and his wife Mendy, have been recognized for years as farm leaders.
Sink is finding ways to adjust his farming to changes life resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that VFBF is doing much the same by monitoring the changing situations and providing information for its members.
The Franklin County native who lives and farms in Montgomery County talked about his farming and related businesses on a windy afternoon at the farm.
He said he is primarily in the livestock business. He also grows a variety of produce and custom hay for equestrian, dairy and beef customers. The Sinks own Hethwood Market in Blacksburg where they market locally grown meats and produce.
As spring comes, Sink said he has different projections for his varied enterprises. He said livestock markets have stayed open during the pandemic but prices have fallen. He expects they will be down for an extended period.
He is hopeful for his produce. He expects to have a decent year selling his local foods. The pandemic may even help as more people seek local foods, he said.
Sink said he is also unsure what his hay demand will be as the different customers deal with their individual situations. He knows some people are wondering if they still will be in business by the time they would normally be buying hay.
The family’s Hethwood Market is an important part of their marketing system. They created it as a way to sell their locally-grown produce and developed a catering business operating from the store.
They are a member of Roseda Beef, which is a group of beef producers from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania who have banded together to market beef under their own brand.
Sink said they closed the market last year in order to devote their efforts to their catering business. This all changed with the lock down of the state because of COVID-19.
“We had to reinvent ourselves,” he said.
They did this by reopening the store and selling curbside dinners. These are sold in family-sized packages designed to last a week. The dinners can be ordered on line and picked up at the store on Mondays and Fridays.
In addition, the Sinks are selling memberships with the store. These entitle members to a box of local foods each month. The family is trying to use themes with the boxes to promote special observances.
May is both Beef Month and Strawberry Month, Sink noted, so the boxes for this month will feature these foods. June is Dairy Month so dairy products can be expected in those boxes.
Food safety has always been part of this business, Sink added. This means many of the safety requirements issued because of the pandemic were already in place. He said his workers are used to wearing gloves, washing their hands and cleaning often. Still, they have stepped up their efforts.
He added he is scheduling his workers hours differently so there are not too many people together at one time.
At VFBF, Sink said the insurance company is working to stay abreast with national and state developments. The federation is working to help farmers get the information needed to keep going.
“Farm Bureau is going to be there to help people try to figure it out,” he said.
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