Meeting Covid-19 Food Production Challenges

When the unexpected trials of the COVID-19 hit Georgia, there were many challenges for both farmers and consumers concerning the food supply and availability of products on grocery store shelves. Despite limited supplies in the store, producers were dumping milk that could not be picked up and meat processing plants were operating at severely reduced capacities due to virus outbreaks in employees. The closure of many businesses, restaurants, and community activities had an impact on prices of foodstuffs for consumers, the prices that farmers and producers received, and on the ability to transport products across the country. Because of this, dairymen across the country were forced to dump milk because was no market, while consumers were limited to how much milk they could buy in a store. To address the educational needs of those contacting the Extension office in Morgan County, the agent worked with an Ameri-Corps intern and various Extension specialists to create four fact sheets. These fact sheets, subtitled the Extension 101 series, gave concise answers to questions from producers and consumers. The fact sheets were entitled “So…You Want to Buy Your Meat Directly from a Farmer?”, “So... You Want to Raise Your Own Eggs?”, “Want to Grow Your Own Garden?" and “What’s Up with Spilled Milk?” The fact sheets provided succinct information that was no more than one page, front and back. This format made the fact sheets easy to share in a variety of avenues. Because about 80 percent of Morgan County citizens do not have reliable internet access, these four fact sheets were distributed via hard copies at area feed and hardware stores as well as at the Madison Wal-Mart. These fact sheets were also made available online via the Morgan County Extension website and social media venues. Since publication, producers of various commodities have asked for copies of these sheets to share with those who buy their products. These publications provided a way to use hybridized methods to disseminate information to producers and consumers alike.