When Push Comes to Shelve in Responding to COVID-19
COVID-19 has introduced new ways of completing jobs virtually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 22 million Americans filed for unemployment through mid- April 2020 (Long, 2020). Approximately 747,000 citizens in North Carolina alone have been forced out of work due to social distancing requirements (Chiwaya & Wu, 2020). While some workers have been able to continue working at home or be compensated during the pandemic, such as many faculty and staff working for schools, it has been devastating for small business owners, including farmers, to handle the pressure and stress.
During this crucial time, workers must think critically and creatively to fulfill necessary tasks. However, one job, in particular, has been deemed to be essential to our daily life and one of the most critical roles in the country: work in agricultural and food industries. The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture farm labor report (USDA Economic Research Service, 2020) indicates that hired farmworkers represent less than 1 percent of all U.S. wage and salary employees. However, hired farmworkers contribute to a variety of jobs beyond working in the field or nursery. They contribute to the food system from production to the supply chain—performing inspections and working in testing labs, certification programs, educational programs, and customer services. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on agriculture and food security. The challenge of feeding people well while maintaining safety has become a major issue. Developed by my supervisor and me (Salina) is the work of telefarming, an old trade mixed with modern communication that can assist those who want to grow produce but may not have much experience in farming. . . .
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