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When you think you’ve seen it all (Editorial)

by | Mar 5, 2021

A few issues back, we began our 46th year of covering agriculture on the Delmarva Peninsula and the Mid-Atlantic region.
However, as with many industries throughout the world, these past 12 months have been like no other in history, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uncertainty flooded every facet of the world when the world began to shut down last year in mid-March, and there were scary times as we learned how vulnerable our front-line meat packers were, especially poultry plant workers.
The crisis accelerated the evolution of several agricultural fronts, not the least of which being those who gained attention of the general public and how it quickly embraced the value of “buying local.”
Those offering CSAs provided an outlet to their non-farming neighbors who were looking to avoid the masses in grocery stores.
The farming community came through in other ways, too. Bulk chicken sold directly off refrigerated trucks — sometimes eliciting miles of lined-up anxious customers on the streets of small towns come to mind.
And once regulatory guidance took shape, farmers’ markets enjoyed success from the still-homebound public.
Months later, Christmas tree farms experienced a surprise early season when people, ready to symbolically put 2020 behind them as quickly as they could, came in droves for their live trees as soon as the Halloween decorations were taken down.
2020 also marked the first full volume our newspaper office completed without co-founder and senior editor Bruce Hotchkiss, who died on Oct. 13, 2019 at 90 years old.
We often wonder what he would have thought of this world these last 12 months.
We still miss him dearly. He won’t be forgotten
Forty-six years ago, since “Hotch” helped put together that first issue of The Delmarva Farmer, much has changed in agriculture in this area, from what crops are grown to how they are grown and harvested to where they are shipped and sold.
Farmers have faced these challenges among others head on, looking each time for opportunity in the wake of disruption.
Waves of technological advancements continually lap at the industry’s shores.
At one end are tools to make farming more efficient and hopefully improving a farm’s profitability.
At the other are trendy developments such as lab-grown meat and milk-like substitutes that threaten the entire industry as we know it.
Even with so much attention on food the past year, the bulk of the food-buying public remains uniformed of how what they put in their grocery cart gets created.
Now more people are letting someone else do that without setting foot in the store.
Sooner or later, the food will arrive on their doorsteps via drone flown by someone else in a different state.
But also, a food’s origin and environmental impact continues to be questioned by activist groups, food companies and policy makers.
What’s not in question is the farmers’ commitment to grow the best crop he or she can with the responsibility to the land and water.
It is with deep pride we continue our mission to support and inform the farmers who, by doing their jobs, allow everyone else to do theirs, making civilization’s noble pursuits possible.

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