2020 was an unusual year, to say the least. We all faced unprecedented challenges. But behind every one, we also witnessed incredible resilience, ingenuity and creativity. This is particularly true in agriculture. Despite a global pandemic, farmers across the country have continually found ways to stay safe and productive. That alone is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
When I get the opportunity to talk with farmers who use FieldView™, it’s always the highlight of my day. And last year was no exception. Despite the curveballs the year threw at them, our conversations always included humor and optimism, mixed with the practical grit to keep doing what needed to be done. That inspired me to take stock of the things from 2020 worth celebrating. In the midst of a global crisis, farmers stepped up to support themselves, one another, and us all. As you’ll see, in the year where seemingly everything went wrong, countless things still went right.
19 Billion Bushels and Counting
As the world screeched to a halt, agriculture kept on moving. Compared to last year’s statistics, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Ag Statistics Survey found that corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. were able to bring considerably more to harvest. During that time, corn production increased 8% from last year with a forecasted total of 14.7 billion bushels. With an even larger jump, soybean production increased 20% with a total 4.27 billion bushels. These increases are impressive enough on their own, but are even more impactful considering the many challenges farmers faced last year, including considerable adverse weather events like the devastating derecho that ripped across the Corn Belt in August.
Corn production increased 8% in 2020, for 14.7 billion bushels
Soybean production increased 20% in 2020, for 4.27 billion bushels
150 Helping Hands
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that no farmer is ever at it alone. The year saw countless examples of farmers coming together to support one another, as was the case in Howe, Indiana. In the midst of harvest season, Cross-Roads Farms found itself at an impasse after one of the three partners unexpectedly passed away while working the field. With another partner already sidelined due to an injury, they weren’t able to harvest their remaining soybeans. Word spread quickly. And on a Saturday, 75 neighboring farmers left their own operations to come help Cross-Roads Farms finish their harvest, working 17 combines across six fields in less than four hours.
75 farmers came together to help a farm harvest its remaining 608 acres of soybeans
$550 Million for Faster Connections
Despite a year characterized by social distancing, farmers are getting more connected than ever. In a much-anticipated decision, Congress allotted $550 million in loans and grants specifically to improve high-speed broadband connections throughout rural areas. This much needed boost to our nation’s internet infrastructure has the potential to offer even more farmers greater data and insight into their fields. And when that happens, we all benefit from more efficient farms, a better food system, and a healthier environment for everyone.
$550 million granted by Congress to expand broadband connectivity in rural areas
Breaking Bread 4.2 Billion Times
The pandemic has threatened the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. In America alone, the rise in unemployment has increased food insecurity considerably. To meet this challenge head-on, farmers joined nonprofits and volunteers, working together across our entire food system to help fight hunger. By finding new ways to collaborate, food banks have overcome many unprecedented obstacles to distribute a staggering 4.2 billion meals to people in need between March and October. This was an incredible and vital achievement, and Bayer contributed to the cause through the Bayer Fund which donated time, money, and resources to feed families. And the work is far from over. Currently, two-thirds of the food banks in the Feeding America network are accepting volunteers to reach their pre-pandemic levels of two million volunteers per month. If you’re interested in offering a helping hand or financial support, please visit Feeding America to learn about the various ways you can contribute.
~4.2 billion meals were distributed by food banks nationwide from March–Oct.
Our Best Is Yet To Come
Agriculture is a particularly great example of what happens when we put our minds together to overcome the odds. Though it’s been a harrowing year, these past months have also highlighted humanity’s greatest potential. As we head into 2021, we can look forward to seeing even more examples of people finding innovative ways to support one another, now and into the future.
About the Author
As a writer and content manager at Climate LLC, Andrew Starr has a passion for helping farmers understand and benefit from the growing world of digital farming. He holds a master’s degree from Webster University and a BSBA from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. Connect with Andrew on Twitter at @andrew_starr_.