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Farming During The COVID-19 Pandemic


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantingsreport was released last week. One northern Illinois farmer said the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting what will happen despite the forecasts.

Mark Tuttle is a Somonauk farmer, the director for District 1 of the Illinois Farm Bureau and the president of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

According to Tuttle, most of the data for the recent USDA report was gathered before COVID-19 became widespread. He said it’s too soon to tell the future of planting and crops from that report.

Tuttle emphasized that there have been changes since the pandemic started.

“We see the price of fuel has dropped which affects the ethanol market, which is 40 percent of our nation’s corn crop,” he said. "It’s affected milk, it’s affected meat, poultry.”

He said the milk production hasn’t changed but the usage is down.

“And now we’ve shut the schools down so the cartons of milk that the kids drink every day at school, we aren’t using right now,” he said.

Tuttle said that the workers are usually isolated on their tractors so there is no change for them. He also said that the nation’s food supply is safe and people have nothing to worry about.

“We have cattle and hogs going to market. Chicken and turkeys going to market every day. In California and the South, they have vegetables being harvested every day,” he said.

But, he said, farmers like himself have to decide what to plant because of the COVID-19 impact.   

Tuttle shared that he is very concerned with the corn and bean market in the upper Midwest. He said ethanol is under the gun right now and that has a huge impact on the corn harvest.