The year 2020 will be known as the Year of the Coronavirus. Professional and college sporting events were called off, airline flights from most of Europe were halted. World stock markets fell out of bed. And schools, colleges and universities were temporarily shuttered.
Even Disneyland was closed.
All of which is critically important to the general populace and the economy. Without people moving freely around the planet and spending money on goods and services, companies are seeing their bottom lines disappear.
For agricultural, however, the outlook is less bleak. While a trip to Europe may be optional, a trip to the dinner table is not. Around the world 7 billion people need to eat. Many — about 2 billion — are subsistence farmers who grow their own food. But the rest buy their food at the grocery store.
The problem for agriculture will likely be centered not on growing the food but getting it to market. Domestic transportation in the U.S. appears not to be a problem, but shipping products and commodities overseas could slow down if container shortages develop.
It may take a while, but that will sort itself out as supply and demand rebalance markets.
In the meantime, we are told to wash our hands and keep our distance from one another as a means of preventing the spread of the virus.
Activities such as FFA state conventions are threatened, canceled or changed. This makes us feel for the thousands of members who worked so hard to prepare for the competitions and the excitement of the gatherings.
Just like participants in March Madness and other sporting events, the conventions are among the highlights of the year. Some FFA members may not get another chance to participate at the state level.
Having witnessed the ongoing media frenzy over coronavirus, we were motivated to look back at the last flu pandemic. Variously called swine flu, or H1N1, it made the rounds in 2009. Like coronavirus, most H1N1 cases were relatively mild, but a small minority were serious and involved hospitalization. From April through November, 3,900 people died from H1N1, a small fraction of the 36,000 who die from the the “common” flus that circulate each year.
Like everyone else, we’re not sure where the coronavirus pandemic will lead. We’re inclined to follow the advice offered on the pre-World War II poster that was distributed in England: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
And wash your hands.